Her Doctrine and Morals

Sexagesima Sunday

4 February 2018


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Dear Friends,

St. Gregory the Great tells us that the similitude that Our Lord has given us in today's Gospel, does not need any further explanation, because Jesus has explained it to us Himself. We, however, must strive to make the lessons even more deeply implanted into our hearts and minds.

The seed that fell upon the good ground sprang up and bore fruit, but we are told that it bore fruit in patience. In all our good works it is always necessary to be patient with our neighbors, our situation, and ourselves. St. Gregory says: "For the grapes must be treaded so that the preciousness of wine may flow. So must the virtue of the olive, pressed out by crushing, leave the husk and become the fatness of oil. So likewise is the grain, beaten out on the threshing floor, separated from the chaff, and being cleaned is brought into the barn. Whosoever then is desirous of wholly overcoming his defects, must bear with pleasure the pain of being made clean; and the more he is now purified in the fire of tribulation, the more worthy shall he be to appear at the judgment seat of God."

In preparing the soil of our souls to receive the Word of God (Jesus Christ) we have a constant work to perform. We must break up the pavement that has developed in our souls by allowing evils to constantly walk that way. We must pick up the stones and cast them out of the way. We must constantly pull out the weeds of pleasure and riches that compete with and weaken the very Life of Christ within us. Then, after all this work is complete and the soil of our souls is well prepared, we are told that we must now practice patience. And a painful patience it must be as St. Gregory has just explained to us. With the goodness of the fruits of the earth there is a destructive purification or cleansing process that must be endured.

The closer we strive to follow Jesus and allow His Life to take root in our souls and develop there, the greater the sacrifice must be made. To be His disciples, we must: deny ourselves, take up our daily cross, and follow Him. This treading of the grape, crushing of the olive, and threshing of the grain must be patiently endured. The pain or suffering is principally due to the dying to ourselves and the world so that we may live in Jesus.

Another source of this pain comes from those around us. There are many in the world that seem to make it their duty to frustrate and tear down any good works that are done. They often are afraid of losing our companionship in a worldly life; and there are some that are determined simply to tear down whatever is built up. Destruction of the good is very easy and more quickly accomplished than the making or building up of good. A solid structure that may take months or even years to erect is often brought down in a matter of minutes. There are many that appear to derive great pleasure in seeing the work of others brought down — perhaps because they cannot or will not build up anything themselves. We must always be aware of others and their influences upon us. While being patient with them and working to help them receive the good grain of the Life of Christ within themselves, we must also not allow them to hold us back or turn us around from the most important work that we must do in this life. They often present "good" worldly arguments that will hinder if not stop the growth and development of our souls. Let us bear patiently these poor souls and pray for them because they truly do not know what they are doing. With Jesus upon the cross let us pray: "Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing."

Our work, then, is in dealing with: the world, others around us, and our own fallen natures which must be painfully and sacrificially cleansed and purified. Yet, this is not all, because the fallen angels are constantly manipulating us and those around us for the singular purpose of destroying the Life of God within us. As we advance in the spiritual life, we must soon discover that our battle is not with flesh and blood, but with powers and principalities from on high. Often these devils make use of the allurements of the world, the weakness of our friends and family, as well as our own fallen natures. There is an evil predisposition within us that desires happiness without suffering or sacrifice. Original Sin reigns heavily in our souls inclining us to turn away from the labors that are necessary for our spiritual lives. These things and many others all become tools in the hands of malevolent spirits to impede or even destroy the life of Christ in us.

None of these things assaults can have any power over our souls, unless we allow it. We have been given this power with our free wills. The world, society, and even the devils can only tempt us — it is we who either accept the temptations and sin, or reject them and spiritually advance. We are truly our own worst enemy when we give in to sin. May we resolve to allow the seed of the Life of Christ to enter into our souls and germinate, mature and become fruitful; as well as remain patient as God presses or thrashes our souls to further purify them.

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