In my last instruction I exhorted you to “fight and conquer.” My watchword today is: Take courage! I have attempted to portray the difficult nature of the struggle which must be carried on if chastity is to be preserved; and to describe how terrible a thing it is when a young girl who has hitherto been pious and virtuous falls into the snares of the evil one and is ruined.
When you think of your own future your heart is doubtless filled with dread and anxiety. Let not this dread and anxiety lead you to discouragement, or to despair. Take courage! I say for your consolation only: Take courage! For if, even after living in sin for years, it is quite possible to be truly converted, how much less difficult it is to preserve oneself from leading such a life, and to keep the robe of innocence pure and unstained!
About 400 years after Christ there lived a girl in one of the great cities of Egypt (a virgin I can-not call her, for she was a notorious sinner). Driven by an unclean spirit, she left her parents when she was only twelve years old, so as to be able to give free rein to her passions.
For seventeen years she carried on her life of sin without the vengeance of Heaven falling upon her; for seventeen long years she lived in such a manner that when upon one occasion a stranger asked her who she was, she replied: “If I were to tell you the story of my life you would be filled with such loathing that you would fly from me as from a serpent.”
If anyone had told this poor miserable sinner, in the midst of her evil life, that when she had reached the age of twenty-nine she would begin to lead the life of an angel, while yet in the same body which had been so stained and polluted by sin, and that for forty-seven years she would continue to lead this life; that she would shed floods of tears, doing ceaseless penance, mortifying herself in every way, allowing herself no pleasure or indulgence, but enduring this martyrdom for forty-seven years; if, I say, any one had told her this beforehand she would, no doubt, have laughed aloud, and imagined that a sorry jest was being made at her expense!
Yet that which appeared impossible actually took place. The notorious sinner became the renowned and holy penitent St. Mary of Egypt.
Seventeen years she had been the slave of sin; but at length, touched by divine grace and aided by the Mother of God, she was converted. From that time forth she led a life of angelic purity.
After doing penance for forty-seven years in a remote and desolate wilderness she passed at length into the presence of Him who has said: “I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way, and live.”
Well then, my dear young friend, if it was possible for this penitent, with the help of God’s grace, to burst the strong iron bonds of the worst imaginable habits, and to lead a pure life, how much easier is it for you to preserve the precious treasure of chastity, which as yet you have never lost!
This is indeed a most consoling thought. “With God all things are possible,” and “I can do all things in Him who strengtheneth me.”
God gives no commands which man cannot keep. Look in winter at the dry branches of the trees. If you had not been taught by experience, you would never believe that from the boughs, which to all appearance are dead, there would spring, not a few leaves only, but hundreds of beautiful blossoms and succulent fruits. Yet so it is when the life-giving breath of spring blows over the earth.
Far greater are the wonders worked by the breath of divine grace, which enlightens the understanding and inclines the will to do what is right.
Therefore never think or say, “The tendency to evil is so strong in me I am compelled to yield to it; I cannot do otherwise!” How deeply must such language grieve the fatherly heart of God, how false is the idea which it conveys in regard to Him!
It is an article of faith that God desires the salvation of all men. “It is not the will of your Father, who is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.”
Such are the consoling words which proceeded from the mouth of the Son of God Himself, and of all the millions of human beings inhabiting the earth there is not one who cannot say to himself that God desires his salvation more earnestly than the tenderest mother could.
Take courage! God means what He says. When a huntsman climbs one rocky peak after another, being daunted neither by thorny thickets nor yawning precipices, nobody can deny that he is in earnest, that he does really wish to capture the game he is pursuing.
And who can doubt that Almighty God does seriously desire our salvation?
The man who could thus think could surely never have seen the picture of an Ecce Homo, or gazed upon a crucifix. From the crown of His sacred head to the soles of His feet this Man of sorrows, our Redeemer, is covered with blood. Each one of His wounds cries to us with a loud voice: ”O child of man, whoever thou mayest be, see how terribly in earnest thy God was in His desire to help and save thee, else would He not have done so much for thee.”
He gives us grace sufficient to overcome temptation; as St. Paul says: “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able, but will make also with temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it.”
Some persons assert that it is too difficult to keep the commandments, and especially to preserve chastity. To this St. Chrysostom replies as follows: “The commands of God are not difficult in themselves; they appear difficult only because of the indolence and cowardice of man.”
Slothful sinners say that it is difficult to avoid occasions of sin. Is it not very wearisome to lie for weeks and months in bed, in compliance with the order of a physician? Yet this is done to recover health.
It is a veritable martyrdom to submit to a painful operation, yet it is undergone that life may be prolonged, and in the time of an epidemic one has to remain in seclusion to avoid contagion; though this is irksome, it is gladly done.
How far more willing ought we to be to make a sacrifice in order to escape eternal death!
Therefore take courage, my dear child! However great may be the temptation, however difficult it may sometimes appear to you to avoid this or that occasion of sin; nay, though sometimes it may seem utterly impossible; though at a later period of your life you may be so unhappy as to yield to temptation, and incur disgrace, misery and want, never give way to despair, never cease to believe in the grace and mercy of God.
If fierce temptation’s waves beat high
And threatening clouds obscure the sky,
Let not thy sinking heart despair.
But raise thy voice to God in prayer.
Fear not lest, thus tempest-tost,
Thou should’st be forever lost;
God thy helper sure will be,
Will part the clouds and calm the sea.
Marriage is of the greatest importance for the whole human race. This state of life has very many weighty and permanent duties and burdens. On this account married people need special graces, and they receive them through Christ’s raising marriage to the dignity of a sacrament. -Fr. Lasance, My Prayer Book
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Author Mary Reed Newland here draws on her own experiences as the mother of seven to show how the classic Christian principles of sanctity can be translated into terms easily applied to children even to the very young.
Because it’s rooted in experience, not in theory, nothing that Mrs. Newland suggests is impossible or extraordinary. In fact, as you reflect on your experiences with your own children, you’ll quickly agree that hers is an excellent commonsense approach to raising good Catholic children.
Fr. Lawrence Lovasik, the renowned author of The Hidden Power of Kindness, gives faithful Catholics all the essential ingredients of a stable and loving Catholic marriage and family — ingredients that are in danger of being lost in our turbulent age.
Using Scripture and Church teachings in an easy-to-follow, step-by-step format, Fr. Lovasik helps you understand the proper role of the Catholic father and mother and the blessings of family. He shows you how you can secure happiness in marriage, develop the virtues necessary for a successful marriage, raise children in a truly Catholic way, and much more.
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