Various Homily's

1.The Church as the Mystical Body of Christ
2.Holy Eucharist
3.The Real Presence
4. The Virtues

The Church as the Mystical Body of Christ
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.


The historical origins of the adjective Mystical to describe the Church as the Body of Christ may be traced to the first Apostles Peter and Paul. In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle of the Gentiles urges them to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, and to the Philippians he describes the Christian community as a fellowship in the Spirit. St. Peter is somewhat more explicit when he calls the Church a spiritual home.

Gradually the concept of the Church as a spiritual society became so common that practically all the Fathers favored the name and went a step beyond the Pauline phrase by combining two ideas that were found separated in the Scriptures, namely, Body and Spirit. Clement of Alexandria in the early third century spoke of the spiritual Body which is the holy Church, and Tertullian clearly distinguished between the spiritual Body of Christ and the Church, and the carnal body of Christ as a man.

A new note was added to the idea of spirit when the Church came to be looked upon as a mystery, in the sacramental sense of mysterion or a visible entity that symbolizes the invisible grace it confers. Warrant for this appellation was found in St. Paul, where he compares the union of man and wife in marriage with the union of Christ and the Church, and describes both alliances as a mystery. Thus St. Augustine could write that even the wicked members of the Church are subject to the Sacrament of the Body of Christ, i.e., to ecclesiastical authority. And Pope Leo I crystallized the mystery-concept of the Church when he declared that those who are outside the unity of the Christian name are outside the Sacrament of the Body of Christ. In England, Bede the Venerable described the faithful as belonging to the mystery of the Catholic Church.

There is no evidence however, that the three elements of spirit, Mystery and the Body of Christ were combined into a single term before the Middle Ages. It appears that William of Auxerre (died 1231) was the first to distinguish the natural Body of Christ and the Mystical and gratuitous Body of Christ, where the word gratuitous refers to the grace of God. Within less than a century, the title found its way into a solemn definition, the famous Bull Unam Sanctam of Boniface VIII, who declared: There is only one Catholic Church, and that one apostolic ... Thus the spouse proclaims in the Canticle, One is my dove: my perfect one is but one. She is the only one of her mother, the chosen one of her that bore her. Now this chosen one represents the one Mystical Body whose Head is Christ, and Christs head is God. Meanwhile St. Thomas followed the usage of William of Auxerre and clarified the difference between the natural body of Christ and His Mystical Body of which we are the members. As a result the terminology entered the stream of theological thought, to reach its highest point of development in the Mystici Corporis Christi of Pope Pius XII.

Mystical Higher than a Moral Unity

The immediate function of the term mystical is to describe the character of the union that exists in the Catholic Church as the Body of Christ. Since the Church is a human institution with all the external apparatus that goes to make up any society of men, to the undiscerning eye it may look no different from any other civil or political organization. Yet the difference is transcendent, and it is precisely this transcendence which the name mystical synthesizes.

As normally defined, a society is an association of persons united under authority for a common purpose. If on the basis of this definition we compare the Church with other institutions, the full import of its mystical nature will become easily apparent.

In other societies, no matter how extensive or elaborate, their purpose does not go beyond the temporal welfare of the members; as in the state which exists to serve the peace and prosperity of its citizens, or in lesser organizations founded to promote a variety of transient and worldly needs. The purpose of the Church, on the other hand, is super-mundane. Her end is to lead her members to the heavenly Jerusalem in which the Church Militant becomes the Church Triumphant, where faith becomes vision and the soul is filled eternally with the torrent of Gods pleasure. This is the first sense in which the Body of Christ is mystical and not merely earthly or temporal.

The bond of unity, in other societies, is the composite will of the members, freely joined together to form a moral entity that may be changed or corrected, entered or left according to preference and depending on the juridical structure of the organization, whereas the Church was founded by Divine volition in the person of the Son of God. Her constitution is therefore immutable and independent of human deliberation. Membership is not a matter of caprice but determined as a condition of salvation. Consequently the Church is a mystical association and not only moral because her origin and stability are derived immediately from the will of God.

If we inquire further what is the essence of unity in other institutions, we find something that is extrinsic to the individual members. It is so to speak, a psychological construct which does not substantially affect their character as men. As social beings, they must perforce belong to some society, but without the necessity of specifying which organization or what form the society must take and least of all with no essential change in their personality effected by membership. By contrast, adherence to the Mystical Body means inherence in Christ Himself, with consequent changes in the souls of each member that are truly ontological. Those who belong to the Church, animated by the Spirit of God, are inherently different from those who do not belong. They become, in the words of Christ, branches of the Vine which is Himself; or, according to St. Paul, the eyes, hands and feet of that mysterious Body of which Christ is the Head.

The Church is a mystical society because the ultimate explanation of her nature is a strict mystery which transcends the capacity of our minds to comprehend. Otherwise than purely her institutions whose raison d'etre can be understood in the light of reason, we should not even conceive the possibility of an organism whose members are so closely united to each other through the Spirit of Christ which they commonly share that it could be legitimately, albeit analogously, compared to the union of the Second Person of the Trinity with His heavenly Father: That all may be one, as Thou, Father, in me and I in Thee; that they also may be one in us. Yet, though mysterious, the Church is not incomprehensible. Even this side of the beatific vision, we may fathom something of her inner constitution on the revealed assurance that what reason tells us about the soul as the principle of human operations, faith informs us of the Holy Spirit as the fountainhead of the Church's activity; so that every Catholic can say without exaggeration, I live now, not I, but Christ liveth in me.

Above all the Church is a mystical reality because it is supernatural. Not only is the concept itself a strict mystery and its comprehension in any degree requires the infusion of divine grace, but incorporation into the Body of Christ is the fruit of selective liberality by the Son of God. No one comes to the Father, except by me....Without me you can do nothing.... You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.... He gave the power of becoming Sons of God to those who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Membership in the Church, therefore, is a gift of infinite love which carries with it benefits in this life that are accepted only on faith, but destined to be recognized in their full import when we reach to perfect manhood, to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ.

Mystical Versus Physical Body of Christ

While extolling the intimacy of union between Christ and His members in the Mystical Body, or through Him between human beings and the Godhead, it is imperative to see the radical difference between this intimacy and the substantial union which exists between the Second Person of the Trinity and the human nature of Christ. The question is anything but speculative, as seen from a number of papal documents where certain aberrations in this direction were explicitly condemned.

In the first part of the twentieth century, the Archbishop of Fribourg in Switzerland sent a memorandum to the bishops of Austria, in which he criticized the terminology of several writers who were disturbing the masses of people by their strange and, as he felt, unorthodox teachings. He singled out those who claim that there is a mysterious kind of existential and somatic union between Christ and the Christian, with disastrous consequences for the doctrine of grace and the sacraments. Pius XII was more specific. In two Encyclicals, on the Mystical Body in 1943 and on the Liturgy in 1947, he warned the bishops of the Catholic world against the dangerous errors of false mysticism and quietism that may develop from a misinterpretation of our union with Christ in His social Body. There are some, he warned in the earlier document, who neglect the fact that the Apostle Paul was using metaphorical language in speaking of this doctrine. Because they fail to distinguish as they should the exact and proper meaning of the terms physical body and mystical body, they conclude to a distorted idea of unity. They make the Divine Redeemer and the members of the Church coalesce in one physical person. Four years later he returned to the same theme. Watch with diligence he told the hierarchy, lest the false teaching of those be propagated who wrongly think and teach that the glorified human nature of Christ really and continually dwells in the just by His presence, and that one and numerically the same grace, as they say, unites Christ with the members of His Mystical Body.

Although the pope did not further identify the theories, they are not hard to find. According to one author, writing before the Encyclical Mystici Corporis and speaking of the Mystical Body, the Body of Christ is none other than the real, personal Body that once lived and died and was, glorified, and with which in the Eucharist (sacramental) Bread is identified. Another writer asked the question: Why did Christ establish that union with Himself and us, wherein He is the Vine and we the branches? He answered: So that He might join us to the divinity. But in what kind of union? In a union so close that we become filled with the divinity in the same way as the humanity was joined to the God-head. Consequently, Christ as man dwells physically in the souls of the just and they dwell physically in His humanity.... This union between Christ and ourselves constitutes the Mystical Body, making it one personality, which is not metaphorical but real, whose new vital principle is the same as that of the risen, glorified Christ.

The problem which such theories raised and about which the pope had to warn was how to explain the function of the Eucharist in the economy of salvation. Without the Eucharist, all agree, the pneumatic life of Christ in the members of the Mystical Body cannot be sustained. But given the continual existence of Christs humanity in the souls of the just (and in this theory everyone in sanctifying grace belongs to the Mystical Body), what place is there for the Eucharist? If the God-man really dwells in the souls of those who belong to the Mystical Body, what reality is left to attribute to His presence in the Eucharist? Why single out the Eucharistic species, if the Lord is also and equally present, in His human nature, in the soul of every person in the state of grace? To still speak of the humanity of Christ as contained under the appearance of bread and wine would be only symbolism, because the Eucharist, for all its reputed value as the food of the Mystical Body, would not give us any more than we have, as soon and as long as we are in the grace of God.

It is instructive to see what effect these notions have had on contemporary Protestant theologians who are sympathetic with the doctrine of the Mystical Body, but lack the guiding hand of a papal directive. A prominent Anglican churchman begins by supposing that the humanity of the Word Incarnate abides physically in the souls of the just. Then he makes the illation that the glorified body of Christ and the Mystical Body must be one and the same thing. But then how explain the Eucharist, and what purpose does it serve? If the one perfect act of worship is being offered by Christ in His glorified natural body in heaven, and if the Mystical Body and the natural body are identical, might it not seem that we make our perfect act of worship simply by being devout members of the Mystical Body, without there being any need for the sacramental Body in the Eucharist? A perfect difficulty, and one that every Catholic would have to face if he adopted the theory that Christ and all Christians coalesce in one physical person. Why confine human nature, on earth, to the Blessed Sacrament, when you have it dwelling in every member of the Mystical Body antecedent to Holy Communion? Either the Real Presence does not really contain Christs humanity, or Christs humanity does not really dwell in the souls of the just. There seems to be no escaping the dilemma unless, as the Anglican proceeds to do, we postulate a sacramental Body (which) is in a quite definite sense perfect, while the Mystical Body is not, and then have the sinless sacramental Body purify the sinful Mystical Body which is either a denial of the original theory or rank blasphemy if the Mystical Body is the human nature of Christ. Another Protestant is more concise and definite. The glorified Body is the Mystical Body, that is, the second has no reality that is not the reality of the first. This is clarity without a scruple. And the Eucharist? What the Eucharist means is the creation of the Mystical Body by partaking of the glorified Body I not yet in the fullness of Resurrection being, but in spiritual anticipation, which is compounding heresy by substituting a spiritual entity for the corporeal presence of Christ in the Sacrament.

Unquestionably, the relation between Christ and His members is most intimate, but not so intimate that the real distinction is erased between the physical body of Christ, notably in the Eucharist, and the Mystical Body as described in St. Paul. Once the two are identified by postulating the indwelling of the God-man, as man, as the equivalent of sanctifying grace, we have reduced His Presence in the Eucharist to the strange fancy elaborated by Luther in his controversy with the left-wing radicals of the Reformation. Luther had denied the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation and in its place invented what he called consubstantiation, according to which the substance of bread and wine remain, though the body and blood of Christ become really present along with them. Thorough-going reformers like Zwingli objected that even consubstantiation implies a miraculous interference with nature and should be rejected as much as the Catholic doctrine. Luther countered by inventing the theory of the ubiquity of Our Lord's humanity, precisely to assert the non-miraculous nature of Christ's presence in the Lord's Supper. If He is everywhere as man, He is already in and with the bread and wine, and no miracle is involved in their consecration. Moreover, He is already in the soul of the believer before Communion is received. So that the whole function of the Eucharist is not to bring about or add to the presence of Christ in the souls of the faithful, but by stimulating their faith to increase their consciousness of that presence.

Luther's own followers drew the simple inference that, if this is true, a real, objective Presence in the Supper is unnecessary. By the same token, the modern theorists reprobated by the Holy See nullify the Blessed Sacrament when they conceive the Church as a colossal hypostatic union, and make the Mystical Body a single cosmic Eucharist, in which human beings are the visible species and the human nature of Christ is the invisible contents.

Visible Source of Invisible Grace

A final interpretation of the mystical element in the Body of Christ is derived from its character as a visible entity that confers supernatural grace on its members. According to St. Thomas, in a broad sense anything spiritual transmitted through bodily signs partakes of the nature of a sacrament. Properly so-called, there are seven sacraments in the New Law which contain the grace they signify and confer that grace from the rite itself (ex opere operato) on those who do not place obstacles in the way. However, by analogy the Church herself may be considered sacramental and under this aspect affords one of the deepest insights into her essence as a mystical reality. That is why the Second Vatican Council called the Church the Universal Sacrament of Salvation.

Supernatural Providence through External Media

A few months before he declared the nullity of Anglican orders, Leo XIII published the Encyclical on Church Unity that goes to the heart of this delicate matter on how the Divine will has made supernatural grace contingent on material and external things. As a general principle, although God can perform by His own power all that is effected by created natures, nevertheless in the counsels of His loving providence He has preferred to help men by the instrumentality of men. And, as in the natural order He does not usually give full perfection except by means of mans work, so also He makes use of human aid for that which lies beyond the limits of nature; that is to say, for the salvation and sanctification of souls. But it is obvious that nothing can be communicated among men save by means of external things which the senses can perceive. For this reason the Son of God took on human nature, and thus living on earth He taught His doctrine and gave His laws, conversing with men.

However, the Divine mission of His Father was not to be terminated with the Saviors death on the Cross, but continue until the end of time. He therefore selected a group of disciples whom He personally trained and made partakers of His authority. After the Resurrection He gave them His own Spirit and directed them to go to the whole world, preaching the Gospel to every creature, so that by profession of His doctrine and obedience to His laws the human race might be sanctified on earth and enjoy everlasting happiness in heaven.

Consequently, if we consider the chief purpose of the Church, which is the sanctification of men, and the proximate, efficient causes of salvation, which are supernatural grace in its various forms, the Church is undoubtedly spiritual. But as regards the persons who constitute the Body of Christ and the means which lead to these spiritual gifts, she is external and necessarily visible. The New Testament is nothing if not a witness to this connection between the material and supernatural in every form of delegated power which Christ committed to His Church: in teaching, sanctifying, and ruling the plebs Christiana.

For the exercise of the Church's Magisterium, the Apostles received a mission to teach by visible and audible signs, and they discharged their mission only by words and acts which certainly appealed to the senses, so that their voices falling upon the ears of those who heard them begot faith in their souls. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ Therefore at the basic level of revelation, supernatural truths were communicated by external media, the spoken words of oral Tradition and the written words of Scripture. Yet this was only the beginning of the Church 's externality. Man's subjective acceptance of revelation by faith, though residing essentially in the intellect, must be manifested by outward profession. For with the heart we believe unto justice, but with the mouth confession is made unto salvation The necessity of having an external revelation and of faith being externally professed is absolute. Without the first, except by a miracle, the minimal faith required for salvation cannot be attained; without the second there is no question of actual membership in the Mystical Body.

On the level of sanctification, though nothing is more internal than heavenly grace which begets holiness, yet the ordinary and chief means of obtaining grace are external: that is to say, the sacraments which are administered by men specially chosen for that purpose, by means of certain ordinances. In baptism there is pouring of water, in confirmation and anointing of the sick anointing with oil, in orders the imposition of hands, in matrimony the vocal acceptance by the two spouses, in the Eucharist receiving the visible species into the mouth, and in penance the vocal and visible absolution by a priest. Externally the actions are all material; but conditioned on their performance in the spirit of faith, such transcendent changes occur in the spiritual world as the removal of a lifetime of sin by a sign of the cross and the conversion of a piece of bread into the living Body of Christ.

The same principle obtains in the Church's authority to rule. Jesus Christ commanded His apostles and their successors to the end of time to instruct and govern the nations. He ordered the nations to obey their authority ... But this correlation of rights and duties in the Christian commonwealth not only could not have become permanent, but would not even have been started except through the senses, which are of all things the messengers and interpreters. Unless the pope and bishops were visibly designated as possessing authority, and their injunctions specified, the faithful might be ready to obey but could not exercise their obedience as members of any society.

Mystical as a Causal Conjunction of the Material and Spiritual.

Accordingly, the Church is seen to be a combination, or better, an amalgamation of two principles, the one spiritual and supernatural, and the other material and sensibly perceptible. This amalgam of the two elements makes her the Mystical Body of Christ. She is not merely an invisible society known to God alone, nor a purely human institution which claims a certain obedience in discipline and external duties. She can no more be one without the other than a man could be a body alone or a spirit alone. Both elements are as necessary for the Church as they are for the nature of man. The Church is not something dead. She is the Body of Christ endowed with supernatural life. As Christ, the head and exemplar, is not wholly in His visible human nature, which Photinians and Nestorians assert, nor wholly in the invisible divine nature, as the Monophysites hold, but is one, from and in both natures, visible and invisible; so the Mystical Body of Christ is the true Church only because her visible parts draw life and power from the supernatural gifts and other things whence spring their very nature and essence. This fusion of visible and invisible elements is not coincidental; it is causally interdependent. Comparable to what occurs in one area of the Church's operation, her sacramental system, is perennially taking place in the Church as a whole. Her external unity among the members, and stability in doctrine and disciple, are the sign of a deeper integrity which comes from the animating principle of the Spirit of God. Conversely, her doctrine and discipline, and the juridical forms by which she governs the faithful carry the assurance of an invisible efficacy which as far transcends the material instruments used as the raising of Lazarus exceeded the sound of Christ's voice or the conversion of the Mediterranean world was beyond the capacity of a dozen Jews.

The Body of Christ is mystical, then, because it is sacramental, not only in the functional sense of an external action signifying the conferral of interior grace, but on the ontological level of a visible entity whose Body, in all its amplitude, is a manifestation of God's presence on earth, begun at the Incarnation and extended to the end of time.


Holy Eucharist:
The Miracle Worker Confirms the Truth of Our Faith
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

This will not be an ordinary conference. Our purpose here is to show that Christ continues performing miracles now on earth, no less than He did during His public ministry in Palestine.

All the miracles that Jesus performed during His visible stay on earth were done by His divine power as the Incarnate God. But these wonders, as the Apostle John calls them, were performed through His humanity.

Let me be even more specific. Our focus in this conference is to concentrate on the wonders that Jesus continues to work in our day, no less than He did two thousand years ago in what we now call Asia Minor. These signs and wonders that Jesus performed during His visible stay on earth were mysteriously conditioned on the faith of His contemporaries. Remember Christ's statement to a group of people who were listening to what He said, but they did not believe that He was what He claimed to be, the promised Messiah who was no less than the living God who became man. He told them, A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and in his own house, and among his own kindred. And he could not do any miracles there, because of their lack of faith (Mk 6:4-5).

Jesus is now on earth, the same identical Christ who performed astounding miracles among His contemporaries in Palestine. But on one condition: that they believed. He is now among us in the Holy Eucharist, the Almighty Son of God who became the Son of Mary. He is ready and willing to work wonders no less astounding through the Holy Eucharist. But there is one condition, we must believe.

 

What is a Miracle?

We commonly define a miracle as a sensibly perceptible effect, surpassing the powers of nature, produced by God to witness to some revealed truth of our faith.

At this point, I wish to make a clear distinction between what we commonly identify as a miracle, and what is really a miracle because it surpasses the powers of human nature.

In ordinary language we speak of the sudden healing of a painful disease, the sudden restoration to a paralytic of the use of his limbs, the restoration of sight to a person who was born blind, and bringing back to life of a dead man--as miracles. So they are, and the Gospels are filled with accounts of such miraculous deeds performed by the Savior during the three years of His public visible ministry in Judea and Galilee.

So also today, one of the Church's conditions for canonizing a person who had lived a holy life is that some miracles are proved to have been performed through his or her intercession. So too the sudden cures at Lourdes are considered miraculous because they exceed the ordinary powers of nature.

Over the twenty centuries of the Church's history, there have been countless physical miracles that Christ has performed by His divine power exercised through the Holy Eucharist. In fact, the sick and the lame and the blind healed in France are not only bathed in the waters of the Shrine in Lourdes. They are also, and most importantly, blessed with a monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament.

All the above are miracles indeed. But here I wish to concentrate on the signs and wonders that Christ works in the souls of His believers through His bodily presence in the Holy Eucharist.

We are not accustomed to call the practice of supernatural virtues as miraculous. Yet, a moments reflection tells us that the very word supernatural means super, above or beyond the powers of nature. In other words, divine grace confers supernatural powers on us human beings, enabling us to do what is humanly impossible.

It is in this sense that I wish to share with you how the Holy Eucharist is the source of miraculous powers. Christ in the Blessed Sacrament gives us super-human energy by which we can practice the virtues that He expects of His followers. These virtues are beyond the capacity of human nature to perform. For the present, let us limit ourselves to just four virtues: charity, chastity, patience and fortitude.

Miraculous Charity

A standard definition of charity in the modern dictionary tells us that charity is help or relief given to the poor; it is a fund or institution that helps the poor; it is an act or feeling of good will or affection. All of these are true enough. But they are not what Christ tells us to do if we are to be His followers.

By Catholic standards, charity is the practice of love for those who do not love us. It is doing good to those who oppose or even hate us. It is the loving acceptance of rejection or opposition or even hatred from people with whom we live or among whom we labor.

In the Savior's own words, we are to love one another even as He has loved us. How much has He loved us? He loved us even to dying on the cross in order to save us from the tragic consequences of our sins.

The super-human charity that Christ expects of His followers is to be reflected in their selfless love as members of the Christian family. The adjective selfless is part of our faith. Husbands are to love their wives, and wives their husbands; parents their children, and children their parents; brothers and sisters are to love one another--selflessly. How selflessly? As selflessly as Christ has loved us, even to shedding His blood on the cross out of love.

Don't tell me this is easy. Easy, do I say? It is impossible, and I mean impossible. So true is this that no religion in history, even pre-Christian Judaism, has ever demanded the practice of such selfless charity as Jesus Christ prescribed for His followers as a condition for their salvation.

Is it any wonder, then, that on the same Holy Thursday night when He gave us this humanly impossible commandment, He instituted the single most important means we need to put this commandment into practice?

What was it that converted the pagans of Rome to Christianity? They did everything in their power to prevent Christianity, I don't say from spreading, but even from taking root in the first centuries of Christian history. But what happened? So far from eradicating these hated Christians, their pagan contemporaries were converted to the religion which they despised. What brought on their conversion? It was the practice of heroic, shall we say miraculous charity by these once despised followers of the Nazarene.

Where did Christians get the strength to love those who hated them? Where? From the Holy Eucharist. It is a matter of historical record that the early Christians assisted at Mass and received Holy Communion every single day. They knew that, without the Eucharistic Lord offering Himself in the Holy Sacrifice and giving Himself to them in Communion, they could not--and I mean could not--have even survived as Christians, not to say have witnessed to their faith, even to dying a martyr's death.

 

Miraculous Chastity

The sexual drive is the most imperious in the human body. It was implanted by the Creator in order to provide for the reproduction of the human race. Since the fall, however, this desire is no longer under such mastery as it would have been if sin had not entered the world.

The sexual instinct is therefore God-given and noble. But it can become a flaming furnace and a destructive hurricane. Seen in this light, it is not surprising that Christ should have added what He did, after saying that a man commits adultery if he even looks at a woman lustfully.

If your right eye should cause you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; for it will do you less harm to lose one part of you than to have your whole body thrown into hell (Mt 5:29).

What the Savior did was to place chastity where it has been ever since the dawn of Christianity. It is the virtue that not only controls the sex appetite, but provides us with the means of offering God a sublime self-sacrifice.

This has been the teaching of authentic Christianity for two thousand years. It is the very opposite of what our sex-intoxicated world is teaching its followers. In our day, the practice of Christian chastity is not only difficult. It is, and I mean every syllable of this sentence, humanly impossible.

Fornication and adultery, masturbation and sodomy are the normal practice of millions in our once Christian country. Those who still believe that sodomy is a sin that destroys whole nations are now said to be mentally sick. They are suffering from homophobia. Children throughout America are now subject to sex education that teaches them that some people are naturally homosexual and they should be treated accordingly. Priests, and even bishops, are defending sodomy. Yet we wonder why in one diocese after another Catholics are becoming a vanishing minority.

There is only one way that we can remain chaste according to the will of the Incarnate God who was conceived and born of the Virgin Mary. It is only through the Holy Eucharist that we can obtain the strength we need to remain chaste, in every state of life, in a world that has literally gone mad with sexual insanity.

 

Miraculous Patience

The English word patience comes from the Latin word pati, which means to suffer. Patience enables us to endure present evils without sadness or resentment in conformity with the will of God. Patience is mainly concerned with bearing the evils caused by another. For the sake of clarity, we might note that there are three grades of patience: to bear difficulties without interior complaint, to use hardships to make progress in virtue, and even to desire the cross and afflictions out of love for God and accept them with spiritual joy.

Needless to say, patience is not only a difficult virtue. It is, to repeat ourselves, impossible to practice by our own natural powers.

If there is one message that Christ kept repeating to those who believe in Him, it was, and is, to suffer patiently in what we correctly call this valley of tears. He told us that if we are to be His disciples, we must carry our daily cross and follow Him.

Talk about patience. In the eighth Beatitude, Jesus tells us, Blessed are you when men reproach you, and persecute you, and, speaking falsely, say all manner of evil against you, for my sake. Rejoice and exult, because your reward is great in heaven; for so did they persecute the prophets who were before them (Mt 5:11-12).

As we saw, patience is especially the experience of suffering that other people cause us by their actions, their words, their silence, even by the look in their eyes.

Except for the grace of God, we could not practice the patience that Jesus Christ expects of those who call themselves His believers. This could have been said from the first days of Christianity. But in our day, it should be etched in bronze. We are living in the Age of Martyrs.

More Catholics have shed their blood for the faith since the year nineteen hundred, than in all the previous nineteen centuries before, put together. Yet, as we know, there are two kinds of martyrdom. There is the martyrdom of blood and the living martyrdom of living out the eighth Beatitude, not only in patience, but in merciful charity toward those who are causing us so much spiritual pain.

We return to the theme of our conference. We are speaking on the Holy Eucharist as the Miracle Worker. To be stressed is that the Miracle Worker in the Eucharist is no one less than Jesus Christ. He told us not to be afraid, for I have overcome the world. He also told us, I am with you all days, even to the end of the world.

This is where our faith becomes indispensable. We must believe that in every Mass it is Jesus Christ, true God and true man, who offers Himself to His heavenly Father no less than He did on Calvary. On Calvary, He won for us the graces that we so desperately need to surrender our wills to His divine will, especially when, as on Calvary, He allows human beings to crucify us as they crucified Him. The miraculous graces we need to endure suffering patiently were merited on the first Good Friday. These graces are being conferred on us every time that Mass is offered throughout the world, and every time we receive the body and blood of Christ in Holy Communion.

 

Miraculous Fortitude

There are two words in English that are almost perfect synonyms, namely fortitude and courage. I chose to speak of miraculous fortitude rather than courage, because fortitude, from the Latin fortitudo, is the Catholic Church's official name for the moral virtue that every Christian receives at baptism.

Fortitude is firmness of spirit. As a virtue, it is a steadiness of will in doing good, in spite of difficulties being faced in the performance of one's duty.

There are two levels to the practice of fortitude. One is the suppression of inordinate fear, and the other is the curbing of recklessness. The control of fear is the main role of fortitude. Hence, the primary effect of fortitude is to keep unreasonable fears under control and not allow them to prevent us from doing what our mind says should be done. But fortitude also moderates rashness, which tends to lead headstrong people to excess in the face of difficulties and dangers.

There is a sense in which fortitude is a natural virtue. But the fortitude of which we are here speaking is eminently supernatural. In fact, fortitude is not only a moral virtue which is infused into the soul at baptism. It is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit which gives the baptized person a special strength of will.

As a supernatural gift, fortitude confers an extraordinary readiness to undergo trials for love of God or in fulfillment of the divine will. This gift gives us the courage to bear difficulties, even for many years. It enables us to remain firm in carrying arduous tasks to their completion. It enables us to persevere in a lifetime fidelity to our vocation in spite of heavy trials or disappointments sent by God. Most importantly, the gift of fortitude makes us happy in being privileged to suffer persecution or humiliation in union with Christ and for the sake of His name.

All of this we know is both the virtue and the gift of fortitude. What is not so well known is that on both levels, fortitude must be constantly nourished by the grace of God. Divine grace for the human will to practice even ordinary fortitude is indispensable.

Immediately two questions arise. Is ordinary fortitude sufficient for us Catholics in our day? And what is the principal source of the grace we need to practice the heroic courage to sustain us in our fidelity to Jesus Christ?

Heroic Fortitude. Anyone living in a country like ours has no illusions. Ordinary courage, even in professing our faith, is not enough. Pressures from the de-Christianized society in which we live are beyond merely human power to resist.

As Pope John Paul II makes so pathetically clear, we are now living in an age which separates faith from morality. As Christians become de-Christianized, their moral judgment becomes less and less based on the Gospels. What Christian believers today must do is face the facts of life. The world in which they live has become alarmingly un-Christian or even anti-Christian in its way of living. We believers must be convinced that Christianity is not simply a set of propositions to be accepted by the mind. Rather, faith is a lived knowledge of Christ, a living memorial of His commandments. It is the truth to be lived out. Our faith is to be a decision which involves our whole existence. It is an encounter, a dialogue, a communion of love between the believer and Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Our faith involves an act of trusting abandonment to Christ, which enables us to live as He lives in fulfilling love of His father, and of us, His brothers and sisters. Our faith further calls for a lifetime commitment to grow in the likeness of Christ.

Thus our faith becomes a witness to the world as we testify to everyone whose life we touch that we are followers of Jesus Christ. Our faith finally is to lead us to prepare for the supreme witness of martyrdom, ready to lay down our lives to testify that Jesus Christ is indeed God become Man, who died out of love for us on the Cross.

Does it require courage to practice and profess our faith in the paganized society of our day? Does it require fortitude? These are not academic questions. They are expressions of hard-core reality.

That is why the Vicar of Christ speaks and writes at such length about the practice of martyrdom. In more prosaic language, he is telling the faithful to practice heroic fortitude.

The Fortitude of Martyrdom. We are living in The Age of Martyrs. I never tire repeating to one audience after another that there have been more men, women and children who shed their blood in witness to Christ in our century than in all the centuries from Calvary to nineteen hundred A.D. put together.

As we close this conference, I would like to ask five simple questions and briefly answer each one in sequence. All the answers are based on the historic document of Pope John Paul II, appropriately entitled The Splendor of Truth.

What is the teaching of the New Testament on martyrdom? In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the primary witness of dying for the truth. He was followed by the Apostles James, Peter and Paul, then a litany of Christian believers who laid down their lives rather than deny that Jesus Christ is the living God who became man, died on Calvary and rose from the dead with the promise that those who believe in Him will see Him for all eternity.

How is martyrdom a witness to both God's holiness and man's personal dignity? Martyrdom witnesses to God's holiness by testifying to the grace which He gives the martyr. It also testifies to man's personal dignity because our highest act of virtue is to suffer martyrdom rather than disobey a divine moral law.

How is martyrdom a witness to faith in true life? Martyrdom assures a person of everlasting glory as the reward for dying in body rather than committing a sin.

How is martyrdom an outstanding sign of the holiness of the Church? Martyrdom shows what generosity the Church's members are willing to make rather than deny their faith or disobey law of God. In this way, they witness to the Church's credibility as a divinely inspired source of sanctity.

Is there such a thing as a living martyrdom? Yes, when, as St. Gregory the Great teaches, we love the difficulties of this world for the sake of eternal rewards.

All that we have said about fortitude would be so much pious talk unless we had access to the strength to profess and practice our faith with the courage of martyrs. Where do we obtain this strength? Only from Jesus Christ, who is present on earth in the Holy Eucharist. Except for the Blessed Sacrament, there would be no martyrs in Christian history. Except for martyrs, there would be no growth in the Catholic Church. St. Augustine could not have been more clear. In The City of God, he tells us, The martyrs were bound, imprisoned, scourged, racked, burnt, rent, butchered and they multiplied.

 

Prayer

Mary, Mother of the Holy Eucharist, obtain for us the miracles we need to remain faithful to your Divine Son. Ask Him to give us the grace of living lives of heroic charity and chastity, patience and fortitude. We promise to follow what you told the servants at Cana, Do whatever He tells you. Amen.


Devotion to the Real Presence and Growth in Sanctity
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

First, what do we mean by the Real Presence?
By the Real Presence we mean the Presence now on earth until the end of time of Jesus Christ. True God and True Man in the fullness of both natures contained by the Eucharistic species. He as it were dwells, that's where Christ in the fu11ness of His human and divine natures abides. The Latin phrase is Connitator. It is though we have Jesus Christ inside there in a way that He is not present anywhere else except in heaven. What do we mean by the Rea1 Presence? After the Consecration we distinguish philosophically between substance and accident. The substance is that which makes a thing what it is and underlies its properties, but the properties, but the properties can change. The substance remains. We are the same substance from the time we were conceived in the womb to the present moment. Our accidents or properties have certainly changed. Now some questions:

After the consecration is the substance of bread and wine on the altar? No.


After consecration are the accidents of bread and wine, are the physical properties of bread and wine, rea1 physica1 properties on the altar after consecration? Yes, that's the first miracle of the Real Presence. There are two miracles to the Real Presence. The first miracle is that you have real physical properties minus their substance. The first miracle of faith in the Eucharist is in the Real absence of the substance of bread and wine. You can taste, you can touch, you can feel but the substance is not there.


Is the substance of Christ's Body and Blood on the a1tar after Consecration? Yes. In other words, does Christ have the organs of His Body, does He have His Hands and Feet, and Features, His Eyes, and Mouth, and Eyes and Heart? Do they have size and dimension and color? Is the human mind of Christ thinking in the Eucharist? Is the human will of Christ in the Eucharist loving? Yes. Is the whole Christ there? Yes. The fourth yes, is the second big mystery of the Real Presence. The first mystery is that we have accidents without their substance. The second mystery is we have physical properties without their visible sensibly perceptible manifestation.


Teaching, therefore, devotion to the Real Presence as a means of growth in sanctity should begin with the one who does the teaching, him or herself knowing exactly what the Real Presence means. What does it mean? It, first of all, means that in the Eucharist we have the whole Christ. The Council of Trent gave us the term which is part of our faith, in the Eucharist we have the Totus Christus. The whole Christ. Saying that we believe as Catholics that in the Eucharist Christ is present with the fullness of His divine nature and the fullness of His human nature. There is no problem whatever or no test of the faith to say that Christ is present with the fullness of His divine nature because Christ had been present as God on earth long before the Incarnation took place. Christ as God is everywhere! The real test of faith is whether we believe Christ is present not only as God but is present as Man...Nor is that enough. It is not merely that He is present as Man but that He is present as Man in the fullness of His bodily or corporeal nature and in the fullness of His spiritual human nature. Nor is that enough. We believe that in the Eucharist is present Christ with His Body and Blood which are living and possess all the physical properties that any living human being has. So too with the soul. That soul is united with Christ's humanity. It is therefore a soul with a mind. Christ has two intellects; He has two wills. Consequently, Christ is present in His soul with the fullness of His human mind and His human will and both distinct from the Divine mind and will.

What is the simplest way of identifying the Real Presence? The Real Presence is Jesus Christ who is living in heaven at the right hand of His heavenly Father and on earth only and exclusively in the Eucharist. To summarize, therefore, the Real Presence refers to that reality which constitutes the Living Christ. And just as truly us Christ was really present in the fullness of this human and divine natures only within the limits of that Child whom Mary loved at Bethlehem and outside of Him though God was surely present but Christ was not present as the God-Man in the straw in which He lay at Bethlehem. He was not present in the air that He breathed, He was not present as the God-Man in Mary or Joseph. He was present only and uniquely in that human being Who was born on Christmas day. The Eucharist began in the womb of Mary. Augustine's phrase the flesh of Jesus is the flesh of Mary", is beautiful. It means that when we believe in the Real Presence we believe that having risen from the dead and ascended at the right hand of His heavenly Father, Christ did not leave the earth. The real difference between anyone else and a Catholic is that a Catholic believes that Christ is present in heaven and on earth. The expression and on earth is our faith in the Real Presence. The discovery of the full reality of the Real Presence I consider one of the greatest graces in the spiritual life. A lot of believers don't really see it. That's the foundation!

Now the history of spirituality as related to the Real Presence. Here you could choose the life of any saint ancient, medieval or modern; if you want to know that relationship there is between devotion to the Real Presence and growth in sanctity read the lives of the saints and look for this. They all had it. Not all the biographers don't have that strong of faith themselves. One of the simplest ways of promoting devotion to the Real Presence among those in formation is to get them to read from and about these saints about whose devotion to the Rea1 Presence we know the most. Once it dawns on you then you deal with Him as you deal with the living Christ. You talk to Him; you know He is there listening. He sees you; and with the eyes of faith you see Him. Being in the company of Christ is not the same as knowing in whose company you are. This is one grace that I urge you to get for yourselves and then to urge those who are in the religious community to pray for, for themselves. Some young people may have it. Converts have it. Most of the time that's how their conversion starts. (Story of "Springum", the convert who painted in Catholic Churches) (end 6 Chapter John - Doctrine of Eucharist) (Promised never to point in any place except where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed.)

Consequently, one of the most effective ways of inspiring religious to be more devoted to the Real Presence is to expose them to the life history of the great men and women who have reached sanctity because of their own great devotion to the Real Presence. A few names are: the outstanding theological writer on the Real Presence is St. Alphonsus Ligori; St. Peter Julian Eymard the founder of the Blessed Sacrament Fathers and Brothers. His writings about the Real Presence are especially important because they bring out how Christ in the Real Presence is to be imitated. This Christ who is imitable is imitably from His visible stay on earth and from His Eucharistic stay on earth. Among the virtues that Peter Julian brings out that Christ wants us to especially imitate in the Eucharistic Presence are His patience, His love, His obedience and with strong emphasis His humility. A .third saint is St. Margaret Mary. The two books that are easily available in English translated are her letters and her autobiography. (Mr. Harry John financed the translation and circulation of these two books.) Margaret Mary's devotion to the Eucharist was so deep that devotion to the Sacred Heart she says, is devotion to the Real Presence to the Holy Eucharist. There is no devotion that modern Popes have more emphasized than devotion to the Sacred Heart. For the best reasons; because the Eucharist is the Sacred Heart...making sure that we know His physical Heart is there. Now an analysis of both the why and the how of cultivating devotion to the Real Presence and this fostering sanctity.

Why? There are three principal reasons why devotion to the Real Presence is such an effective means of fostering holiness:
There is no single mystery of our faith that more surely strengthens the faith than this mystery. It is no wonder that it has been called the mystery of faith. To believe in the Real Presence is to believe in everything else, the Trinity, the Redemption, the Incarnation. We know how demanding this faith can be from that 6th chapter of John, the only occasion when we know His own disciples walked from Jesus was when He announced the Real Presence. The complaint has been repeated over the centuries. This is intolerable language. Who can believe it? Those who want to believe it. But let's make sure we know what the object of this faith is. It is not that Christ is present there as God. He was, on earth before the Incarnation. It is not even that the substance of Christ's Body and Blood is there. It is that Christ is present with His physical properties. It is that we believe that Christ is there with that which we cannot see, which we cannot touch, which we cannot experience with our bodily senses. The "Tantum Ergo" Faith supplies the defect of the senses. Christ has His sensibly perceptible properties in the Eucharist and I believe they are there though my senses cannot perceive them. As we hold our faith in twice tested in the Eucharist. Christ's contemporaries during His visible stay on earth saw only a man and believed that behind that man is God. We see only the Eucharistic species and behind them we believe there is a man and behind Him there is God. So first faith. Anyone who is weak in their Eucharistic faith, will be weak right down the line across the whole spectrum of the mysteries of Christianity. The main reason for the defection of 10, 000 priests in the United States since the Second Vatican Council was a weakening of faith in the Real Presence. That is absolutely and incontestably true. A priest whose faith in the Real Presence is strong, is a priest who is faithful to His priestly duties, devoted and with God's grace is effective in winning souls.


The Real Presence, because it is a sacrament, confers the grace that is proper to this sacrament. What is the grace? The grace to love. So why is devotion to the Real Presence so important? Because it is especially through faith in the Eucharist that we obtain an increase of the virtue of charity, both towards God and towards our fellow man.


Why devotion to Eucharist is so valuable for promoting sanctity? Because it fosters community worship. Something mysterious happens when a group of people worship together before the Real Presence. In other words, they receive grace from that Real Presence that is absolutely unique and that is why communities as communities who want to become strong and stable must have communal devotion to the Eucharist. This is so true, that under no matter what guise of excuse a community weakens in its corporate devotion to the Real Presence, that community is in trouble, and if it is not careful, is in danger of disintegration.
How to foster progress in holiness through greater devotion to the Real Presence:
Be sure you yourself know the meaning of the mystery of the Real Presence and explain it accordingly to others.


To make sure there is no doubt in anyone's mind that the Eucharist is sacrament three times over. It is sacrament as sacrifice in the Mass; it is sacrament as communion when received; it is sacrament as just being present, which means, Christ just because He is present on the altar gives grace. How does He give grace? Infallibly as the ex opere operato just because the Blessed Sacrament is reserved, therefore everyone who comes before that presence no less than everyone who came before the presence of Christ during His visible stay on earth. You couldn't be in Christ's Presence without being affected by Him. Everything else about the religious life is secondary. Either Christ is the Center the Community or we don't have a community.


The holy hour. This is something that goes back to Christ's agony in the garden, when He asked Peter, James, and John to watch with Him. Then Margaret Mary quoted Christ several times. Christ's greatest sorrow as He expressed was that consecrated souls are so careless about this. Archbishop Sheen preached the holy hour in season and out of season. He didn't miss a holy hour once from his ordination until he was laid up in the hospital. So the holy hour. If it has to be broken up, get an hour in, OK? You spend one hour before the Blessed Sacrament each day besides the Mass and you've saved your soul and you become a true religious.


Encourage people when they have the option to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. That does not mean that prayer that is not before the Blessed Sacrament is not very efficacious. But other things being equal, when I have the option, to spend the time there.


Asking for a deeper faith in the Real Presence. If Christ tells us, "ask and you shall receive." Our asking Him for a deeper faith He will give it to us.


Just want to be with the Eucharistic Christ, for no other reason. You don't know why. You just want to be around and as far as possible do what you have to do there. Do your work before the Blessed Sacrament. Get the idea He is there. Anything you can do before the Blessed Sacrament I do it. So just be with Him; and find any excuse to be with Him.


In terms of the how religious should be apostles of the Real Presence. In other words, they themselves are so imbued with faith in Christ's Eucharistic Presence that they want to tell everybody else about It and they take every reasonable and if need be unreasonable occasion to tell people. Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament meant everything to them. So, explaining the Real Presence, encouraging devotion to Real Presence.
Compare the Real Presence with the Mystical Body of Christ.

Both are realities. Christ now has two existences which until He died on the Cross He had only one. Perhaps we could put this in stages. Before the Incarnation, God was present on earth only as God. With the Incarnation God became present on earth as the God-Man. The distinctive difference between Christ's presence on earth since the Incarnation and before, the distinctive difference is His humanity. There is now a human being who is hypostatically, that is totally, and substantially united with the divinity present: in the world of space and time. The moment Christ died on the cross, the Mystical Body came into existence. The Physical Body of Christ came into existence at Nazareth when Mary said, Be it done to me according to Your word. The Mystical Body came into existence the moment Christ pronounced the words, It is finished. Into your hand I commend my spirit. The moment Christ died what had been only the physical Christ now took on in addition His members with whom He united Himself as their head. The Mystical Body of Christ, therefore, is the Church. The Mystical Body may also be called the communion of saints. The Mystical Body is that communion of the souls in heaven, the souls in purgatory, and the living who are in God's grace and members of the Church on earth, who are the members of what we call the Mystical Body, whose head is the Physical Body. So the Mystical Body is a society; the Mystical Body is a group of people united with Christ. The Mystical Body has a soul. The soul of that Mystical Body is the Holy Spirit. St. Paul distinguishes - he never mixes the two up; he never confuses the Physical Body of Christ with the Mystical Body. The physical Body in Greek is Sarx; the Mystical Body or the Church in Paul is Soma. What's the difference? The difference between the Physical Body of Christ and the Mystical Body of Christ is all the difference between Jesus Christ who is the Son of God, that became the Son of Mary, and the society of all those who are united with Christ joined to their head. The Mystical Body as such is not sensibly perceptible. You cannot see the Mystical Body as Mystical Body with your senses. You do not directly touch this Mystical Body but the head, Christ, is sensibly perceptible, the members are as members sensibly perceptible. The Physical Christ is Jesus; the Mystical Body is the Church.

We receive the Physical Body of Christ substantially. We receive the rest of the Mystical Body in spirit or voluntionally because Christ has all of us on His mind; He has all of us in His heart, is so far as the whole Church is on Christ's mind and in Christ's heart to that extent we receive what is on His mind and in His heart.

The Physical Body of Christ by Christ's own command is necessary to keep the Mystical Body of Christ alive. In other words, the members of the Mystical Body who are still struggling on earth will not remain united with that Mystical Body unless they receive the Physical Body. They will not grow in union with Him; they will not grow in union with one another, unless they receive the head of the Mystical Body in the Eucharist. The one is a condition for the other. Remember until we reach the Beatific Vision we can be separated from Him. Consequently we must constantly strengthen our bonds with Him at the risk of losing that union when we mainly strengthen our bonds with Him through the Eucharist. That is why it is called the sacrament of unity. We are all naturally individual persons, separate, distinct from one another. Nature divides; grace unites. The principal source of that which unites is the Eucharist. That's why Christ couldn't have as He did at the last supper the command to love one another as He has loved us unless He gave us the means. He made sure He gave us both the command and the means on the same occasion.


The Virtues
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

This is our closing conference. I mean it when I say it pains me to have to leave. But, I promise from today on, first time I made this promise, I will remember the Handmaids of the Precious Blood by name every morning after rising and the last thing at night until the Lord calls me into eternity. I ask for your prayers.

Our present conference is on the virtues. This will be a long conference, and I will try to make it within the limits of the time which the machinery allows me. First by way of prelude: virtue in general is a firm and habitual disposition to do good. That should be memorized. Virtue in general is a firm and habitual disposition to do good; it allows a person not only to perform good actions but, to give the best of himself. The virtuous person tends towards the good with all his bodily and spiritual powers. He pursues and chooses this good in the concrete, specific actions of daily life. That is a short introduction, now come the questions.

What is virtue? A more specific theological definition, human virtue to be distinguished from what may be called Godly virtues. Human virtue is moral virtue. What I am calling Godly virtue is theological virtue, and we will speak about both forms of virtue.

Human virtue arises from the attitudes, stable dispositions, and habitual inclinations of the intellect and will that regulate our actions, direct our passions and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. I will forbear repeating. Human virtues confer the facility, self-control, and joy that we need to lead a good moral life. What are the three basic blessings of a moral virtue? They are facility; ease. Once we got the virtue we can do what we are supposed to do easily. Self-control; our moral virtues control what we spend so much time on. Call it our passions, our inclinations, feelings, emotions, which we said, come at least sixty times, sixty times twenty-four hours every day. Every second some people, even several times in a second, have urges, impulses that keep rising. What do the moral or human virtues control? : These inclinations. And finally the moral virtues give us joy in doing what we are supposed to do. There is pleasure. I am happy, I'm happy to be courageous. I am happy to control my desire. I see a big pile of food and I am happy to take only one small portion, and I don't keep looking at the platter. Gosh, what I'm missing!

 

Cardinal Virtues

Next question: What are the four cardinal virtues? Now we have another name. We called them human virtues; we called them moral virtues; and now we are calling them cardinal virtues. Same thing, except the cardinal virtues are the cardianars , the hinges around which all the other moral virtues revolve. They are prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance. All human virtues are expressions of these four. You name the virtue in the moral order, somewhere somehow you can classify it under these four categories. Thus, for the record chastity is one form of the virtue of temperance. Where temperance controls our desires and chastity controls a specific desire, namely for sexual pleasure.

Prudence.  Now we go down the four principle or cardinal virtues. What is prudence? Prudence disposes our practical reason to recognize our true good in every circumstance of life and to choose the correct means of achieving it. Prudence is called. The queen or pilot of the other virtues because it guides these other virtues by directing them to choose the proper means to achieve a determined good end.

Prudence is a virtue of the mind. The other three cardinal virtues are in will. This one is in the mind. We need this virtue to practice all the others.

What does prudence do? It enlightens us in every circumstance of life to recognize first with our minds, so that we may choose first a correct end, a purpose, which is pleasing to God. And then what is just as important the right means to attain it.

I decided to stay in Jemez Springs as long as I could on Sunday, today. So coming here, I inquired and found out, I can leave by 4:30 this afternoon from Albuquerque. So I will reach Detroit Metro Airport at 12:05 A.M. Monday morning. I have to get there at least by Monday morning because I am scheduled to say the six-thirty morning masses at the University Parish Church on Monday. I better be there on Monday! I had to use my head otherwise known as the virtue of prudence. Why is prudence called the queen or as the catechism calls it the pilot of all the virtues? Because, we have to be prudent in practicing every other moral virtue.

Is poverty a moral virtue? Yes. Do I have to be prudent in the practice of poverty? Yes. For example, I want to be really poor; so I will skip my meals say for several days. Now skipping my morning breakfast is routine in my life, and I figured out that is prudent. I try not to eat before I say mass on any day. The latest so far was a seven p.m. mass. I thought it was prudent. Did I ever enjoy my meal at nine-thirty p.m. What a hardy breakfast I ate! Prudence therefore, must guide all the virtues.

Justice.  Next cardinal virtue: What is justice? Where prudence is in the mind, justice is in the will. What is justice? Justice is the virtue that guides the human will to give God and to others what is their due. Justice enables me to give God, and He always comes first, to give God and others what God and others have a right to. Justice is not charity. Justice is a strict obligation. Somebody does a piece of work for me, I agree to pay them a certain salary, in strict justice I owe that salary to that person. But, of course between the two forms of justice the most important is justice towards God. So our next question is; what is justice towards God?

Justice towards God is the virtue of religion. That is my friends is what religion means. Giving God what He has a right to. What does God have a right to? He has a right to be known and obeyed. In the first right, God has a right to be known. We have a duty to learn all we can about God. And I would say speaking to this audience, the primary duty of a religious devoted to the contemplative or even monastic life is to know God, and grow in the knowledge of God. God has the right to speak and be listened to. God has a right to deal with us, as He wants to. In all these cases our justice towards God implies our submission to God, submission to His laws and His providence in our lives. Our humble response to His divine rights as His creatures is simply the practice of religion. As over the years I have told religious, by now we have come to use religious as both a noun and adjective. So religious are people. The word religious therefore as a noun, but those people who are called religious as a noun there are some among human beings who are called to be religious as a noun and to be religious as an adjective. That is our primary duty as religious. And if we who have vowed ourselves to be religious, if we don't give God what is His due, we are, in the deepest sense of the word, irreligious. We go on.

What is our justice towards others? Justice towards others recognizes people's rights as human beings always in view of the common good. A just person considers the good of a community. And how this his own interest are to be subordinated to the welfare of others. That too is justice. Is not only respecting the right of others as individuals, but the rights of a community. That is why I try for example as a member of the Detroit University community to be of service. We have a hard time getting Jesuit priests to offer six-thirty Mass in the morning for a number of obvious reasons. So shortly after I came to the university they asked me if I would want to say the six-thirty morning Mass, and he gave me a little commentary. So I promised him if it is humanly possible I promise to be in Detroit two weeks of every month to offer the six-thirty morning Mass at the University Parish Church. And this month it already being January I apologized, I can be in Detroit only one week. And when Mother Teresa asked couldn't I possibly come for one month to stay in India. I said, Thanks mother, I have a prior commitment in Detroit. Pardon the personal note. Do you know what I am saying? My first right is to my community and I apologize for not being there for two weeks. And as religious I believe we should all examine our consciences everyday and always say, Orni Gorno on how faithful have I been to recognizing, respecting and responding to the rights of my community everyday.

Fortitude.  Next question: What is fortitude? Fortitude is the virtue that regulates our fears. It ensures stability and constancy in doing what is good even in the face of difficulty. The virtue of fortitude enables us to resist fear, even the fear of death, and to suffer everything in the defense of our practice of the faith. We are sustained in our fortitude by the promise of our Lord, quote, In the world you face persecution, but take courage I have overcome the world. unquote. Thanks Lord! The world hates those who follow Christ.

Temperance.  What is temperance? Temperance moderates our desires. Note the word moderates. It does suppress them otherwise we would never do any good, but moderates them. It moderates the attraction of pleasure, bodily, emotional, and spiritual. In the words of St. Paul, We are to live lives that are self-controlled, upright and Godly. unquote Paul. Always, this control of our appetites is to be guided by reason but illumined by faith in which Christ is our model of temperance. We not only surrender pleasures that are sinful, but this is what we became religious for. We not only surrender pleasures that are sinful, but even legitimate pleasures out of love for God and in imitation of His Son, Jesus Christ.

To mention just four pleasures. Do we like to possess? DO WE LIKE TO POSSESS! So we surrender out of love for God the natural desire to possess, otherwise known as the vow of poverty. Do we have a natural desire for sexual pleasure? Do we ever! In men that pleasure is more physical, in women it is more emotional. I am not sure which is stronger. By a vow of consecrated chastity we surrender not only the sinful pleasures of sex, but even the legitimate pleasure in sacramental marriage. Do we naturally desire to do our own will? What a question! Who doesn't! Watch a baby; watch two children each wanting the same rattle. So what do we do? We surrender our will, not only in giving up our will in things which would be sinful, but Oh dear Lord, give me the vocabulary to say the right thing, in the trifles, in the trivialities, in the nonentities of religious life. What difference in the objective Divine order does it make to get up? [What time do you people get up normally? Real loud! Five thirty, father.] There is no law on earth that requires human beings to rise at five thirty, yet we bind ourselves under the vow of obedience to get up at a certain time. Even bells, (oh no) and bells to remind us to do one thing and especially to leave something else. I like to quote St. Ignatius, At the sound of the bell we should be ready to leave anything we are doing even leaving the letter we are writing, the letter of the alphabet. Not just the I or cross the t. You have got the t the bell rings. Put the pen down, you don't cross the t We go on.

What is the relation of grace to the practice of human virtues? Grace is indispensable in how many ways? Four Ways. Grace elevates the human virtues from the natural to the supernatural plane. Grace forges the virtues and gives us a facility and ease in their practice. Grace enables us to persevere in the practice of our virtue, and finally grace prompts us to pray, receive the sacraments and respond to God's call to an ever greater practice of these moral virtues, so much for the moral argument of virtues.

Theological Virtues

What are the theological virtues? The theological virtues refer directly to God (Theos), hence the name by enabling Christians to live in relation to the Holy Trinity. They are the virtues of faith, hope and charity. They have God as their origin, God as their motive and God as their destiny. They give the life, the Divine life, to our practice of the moral virtues.

Faith.  Next question. What is faith? Faith is the virtue by which we ascent with the intellect to everything which God has revealed, not because we understand, but because of the authority of God revealing, who can neither deceive nor be deceived. I think it is worth repeating. Faith is the virtue by which we ascent with the intellect to everything which God has revealed, not because we understand, but because of the authority of God revealing, who can neither deceive nor be deceived. For the first eleven years of my teaching theology I taught the theology of faith and my course was two semesters, a whole year. Three classes of an hour each a week, fifteen weeks each semester. We go on.

What is our duty toward the virtue of faith? As followers of Christ we have a series of responsibilities. We are to preserve our faith. We are to live our faith. We are to profess our faith. We are to courageously bear witness to our faith. We are to spread our faith. We are to be ready to confess Christ before others and follow Him along the way of the cross. We are to be ready to suffer persecution for the faith and what else? We are to be willing to die for the faith. We go on.

Hope.  What is the virtue of hope? Hope is the virtue by which we desire our happiness and the kingdom of heaven. It is the virtue by which we place our trust in Christ's promise. It is the virtue, which enables us to rely not only on our own powers but on the grace of the Holy Spirit to remain faithful until death to Jesus Christ. How does our hope protect us? Our hope protects us from discouragement, sustains us in our abandonment by creatures and rejoices our heart in anticipation of the heavenly glory that awaits us. Hope preserves us from selfishness.

Charity.  Next question. What is charity? Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God alone above all things and everyone else out of love for God. What is Christ's new commandment of charity? Christ told us, As the Father has loved me so I have loved you. This is My commandment that you love one another as I have loved you. Notice Christ gave us a new commandment of charity. Indeed, in proper theological language we should not call the third theological virtue love. It should always be called charity. Why? Because charity is supernatural love twice over, it is supernatural because this love had to be revealed by God as a mystery. Charity is a mystery. You don't fathom by your mind the meaning of charity. You believe in it. But secondly, love, when it becomes charity is supernatural both because it had to be revealed by God as a mystery. Never try to comprehend or understand your practice of charity. But secondly, unlike love, charity cannot be practiced without supernatural grace. In other words, charity is supernatural twice over, both on the level of knowledge and on level of volition. We would never know there was such a virtue as charity unless God became man to both practice and reveal it. And we could never practice charity by our own native powers of volition. We need, how we need, constant grace from God to enable our congenitally self-inverted will to go out to others, even to God. And that us why Christ's commandment is charity. I have to say this because I am glancing at the English text of Cardinal Law, even as I am doing this from the French. And I said an aspiration for Cardinal Law, by the way he asked me to pray for him. I said I would when we met at the Eucharistic Congress in Seville this past June. Every time that the French uses correctly, charitie, kind of lost translation talks about love. Oh! Dear Eminence, please! Thank God for the Pope. Next question.

Is charity the norm for keeping the commandments of Christ? Yes. In His own words, now, because we do not have sadly in English a verb that goes along with charity, Christ tells us, and this is a good English translation, but has to be interpreted, Abide in My love which we know means abide in my charity. If you keep my commandments you will abide in my love (charity). What are we being told? To keep the commandments of Christ we've got to practice that love which He elevated. That He called charity. Otherwise, we are not really loving Him. Next question.

What are the qualities of Christian charity? They are spelled out in the famous First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians. In which he says, and each time I glance at the English, sure enough, it's love this and love that. Says Paul, Charity is patient. Charity is kind. Charity is not envious, or boastful, or arrogant, or rude. Charity does not resist or insist on its own way. Charity is not irritable, or resentful. Charity does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. Charity believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. unquote St. Paul First Letter to the Corinthians, thirteenth chapter, fourth through the seventh verses. This is a daily examination of conscience for all of us. And notice this charity as prescribed by Christ as taught to St. Paul by the Spirit of Christ is especially deeply interior, does not insist on its own way. Every person wants his own way. It has got to be this way. There is no objective reason under heaven why this way is a better way. Ah, but there is a profound reason on earth, because I want it. It is not irritable. What irritates us? Oh! That's simple, when people do what we don't like. And what they are doing can be very good, we just don't like it. Or, because they have smaller feet they walk more slowly: we have big feet we walk faster, we don't like it.

Charity does not rejoice in wrongdoing. Ah! What a subtle temptation against charity. Somebody does something stupid, when they smile and say I'm sorry. But down deep in our hearts we may be glad. Serves her right. And the peak of charity believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Always, of course, under the ambit of the Divine Law. Charitable people are believing people. Charitable people are trustful people. Charitable people are patient people, and living with others, this closing statement of St. Paul, Charity endures all things. Could just as well be, charity endures all people all kinds of people. and one of the great blessings of religious community life. All people are different. And would you believe it, they are all different from me. And having said that within twenty-four hours of entering a community you must resign yourself. And as you grow in sanctity you begin to love living among people who are, oh how different, they call them how strange. We adjust to others. One condition that we never compromise, our love for God. The most heroic love for another person may never for a moment or a millimeter compromise with my love for God.

You think we've said enough about charity, oh, there's more coming. Do we have the time? What is Christian charity? Christian charity is the practice of all the virtues animated by love. That again should be memorized. Christian charity is the practice of all the virtues animated by love. It is as we have been saying more than natural love, because it is a supernatural virtue, which enables a person to love beyond the powers of human nature. It purifies our human ability to love, and raises it to the super human perfection of the very love of God; of the God, remember, who allows his sun to shine on the good and the bad, and His rain to fall on the virtuous and the wicked.

Charity does, and this is of its essence, the humanly impossible. And how the world needs this. Christian charity is a moral miracle. There by definition: a moral miracle is where the real does what is beyond its natural powers of volition. We go on.

How is Christian charity the bond of unity? We need to hear and answer this question. Where the world, torn apart by disunity, families broken by the hundreds of millions, and the words of St. Paul, quote, Charity binds everything together in perfect harmony. Without charity there could be no Christianity and Christianity is only as vital, only as vibrant, as the members of Christ's Mystical Body are united in the practice of selfless charity. This is the iron law of unity in a religious community and communities that practice this Christ like charity. And they will have the corresponding unity become magnets, I mean it, attracting vocations. Love draws, love attracts, love you might say pulls others to join itself. Because this is what God when He became man and instituted the Church He told His followers; by this and this most fundamentally shall the world know that you are my followers. But watch it if you have love for one another, mutual reciprocal charity.

Last question. What are the fruits of Christian charity? They are joy, peace, and mercy. Charity begets, surprised to hear this begets, fraternal correction. Charity begets friendship and communion. Says St. Augustine, Charity is the fulfillment and goal of all our good works. Charity is not only the means, but the goal of all our efforts. And once we have reached that goal we have entered our eternal repose; not sleep, but the peace of living in the company of those who during life had practiced charity. And in heaven are united by that love which is the happiness of becoming a member of the Holy Trinity.

 

Prayer
Lord Jesus there is nothing on Earth we need more than the practice of charity. Because if we practice charity here on Earth we will enjoy heavenly beatitude which is enjoying the love of Father, Son and Holy Spirit through all eternity. Amen


 

 

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