O taste, and see that the Lord is sweet: blessed is the man that hopeth in him. – Psalm 34:8
Strange that so much suffering is caused because of the misunderstandings of God’s true nature. God’s heart is more gentle than the Virgin’s first kiss upon the Christ. And God’s forgiveness to all, to any thought or act, is more certain than our own being. – St. Catherine of Siena
God wills only our good; God loves us more than anybody else can or does love us. His will is that no one should lose his soul, that everyone should save and sanctify his soul: “Not willing that any should perish, but that all should return to penance.” “This is the will of God, your sanctification.” God has made the attainment of our happiness, his glory. Even chastisements come to us, not to crush us, but to make us mend our ways and save our souls.–St. Alphonsus de Ligouri
“Everything comes from love, all is ordained for the salvation of man, God does nothing without this goal in mind.” – St. Catherine of Siena
“For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting” – John 3:16
Fallen Man could not redeem himself, because what could Man give to God, that did not already belong to God? Nothing. So, for a reconciliation to take place, the Sacrifice had to be God, and for it to be a Man’s sacrifice He also had to be man. So, the Son of God, who is also God Himself, was sent to become Man, and suffer and die upon the Cross. He offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Only the God-Man could reconciles God and Man.
“Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13
God’s love is the foundation of Hope
“Now the publicans and sinners drew near unto him to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying: This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. And he spoke to them this parable, saying: What man of you that hath an hundred sheep: and if he shall lose one of them, doth he not leave the ninety-nine in the desert, and go after that which was lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, lay it upon his shoulders, rejoicing: And coming home, call together his friends and neighbours, saying to them: Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost? I say to you, that even so there shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner that doth penance, more than upon ninety-nine just who need not penance.” Luke 15:1-10
“St. Alphonsus was gifted with a most ardent temperament, and expressed his thoughts with a happy vivacity. More than once he turned the fire of his eloquence against the Jansenist sectaries; “That meeting which took place at Bourg-Fontaine was less an assembly of men than of demons.” And again: “What good have the French Jansenists effected by making God seem like a Tyrant?”
These words show the fixed sentiments of our saint, and he was not among those who change their sentiments every day. But previous to refuting these heretics in his books, he had already refuted them by this acts. The most beautiful Treastise against Jansenism is the Life of St. Alphonsus!
Scarcely had he been admitted to Holy Orders, when the ruling passion of his life became manifest, with all its ardor, with all its enthusiasm – his passion for great sinners. He put himself in their way; he met them everywhere; he pursed the most wretched; he attracted them; he heard their confessions and absolved them. “He could not endure,; ways Cardinal Wiseman, in his beautiful panegyric on our saint, “those confessors who received their penitents with a discouraging, supercilious air; or who, having heard them, sent them off disdainfully, as unworthy or incapable of the divine mercy. His whole life was a protest against proceedings of this nature, and towards the close of his career, he could use those magnificent words which are the confirmation of his glory, and which should be written in letter of diamond: ‘I do not remember that I ever sent away a sinner without absolution.”
In fact, the great honor of St. Alphonsus is, that he restored Mercy to its true place in the Church. God had been regarded as a sort of giant, harsh and terrible, before whom men trembled, pale, ghastly, devoured by fear. Our saint annihilated these unworthy representations – dangerous and stupid picrures, which distorted the lineaments of the true God. He has shown us what is really the divine aspect; he has pointed our Jesus weeping over sinners, and lovingly extending His arms towards them. The Jansenists suppressed the paternity of God. St. Alphonsus is among those who have restored to Him His character of Father, that is to say, His goodness.
And when our saint took up his pen, his doctrine was not at variance with his practice. In his “Praxis Confessarii,” the great bishop of St. Agatha lays it down that the confessor is at once a father, a physician, a teacher, and a judge. Well, the procrastinating Jansenists would not agree to all of this. Here is a great sinner, who , with trembling knees and shame-stricken countenance, comes to make an agonizing confession of twenty or thirty years’ infamy. “Will you,” asks the saint, “terrify him, and turn him off from month to month, according to the present regime? No, no; it is a Jansenists doctrine thus to defer absolution.” And with a countenance almost terrible, he adds; “It is not difficult, then, to say to your brother: ‘Go off, you are damned; I cannot absolve you.’ But if we consider the value of the blood of Jesus Christ, we should hold such conduct in abhorrence!”
Thus speak the saints: those who have least need of mercy for themselves dispense it most freely to their brethren. True physicians, they do not say to the sick “Wait; in some days I may dress your bleeding wounds.” True fathers, they do not say, “Wait; after some months, I shall open my arms to embrace my repenting son.” True teachers, they do not refuse to give decisions, and leave poor souls to perish in the dark. True judges, they do not inflict on the accused a horrible suspense, broken by sobs and watered with tears. The Jansenists, in being very severe, imagined themselves very wise; but what did they do? What use to say to penitents, “Come back tomorrow,” The penitents did not come back. They made humanity loathe pardon by selling it so dear; and peace, being so tardy in bestowing it. I know that some will object to us the probablilism of St. Alphonsus; they will affirm that he sinned by an excess contrary to that of the Jansenists; they were too severe, he was too lenient. The Saint, with an elevation of principle which is well know, a thousand and a thousand times proclaims that “it is always necessary to act with moral certitude.: He contents himself with adding “of two probable opinions, one is not obliged to adopt the more rigid.” Is this, then laxity? Or do you prefer the Jansenist proposition: “Some commandments of God are impossible to man?” Morose, forbidding, and austere, the Jansentists pointed out the way of salvation, but they strewed it with difficuties almost insurmountable – angular stones, sharp blades, and burning coals; all these must be encountered. “My brother,” say a sweet voice, “begin by walking in the path before you; it is uneven, stony, rough, but you can tread it, and you will even find thereon some flower which the goodness of God scatters, to cheer and console you. Later on, you may enter on more difficult ways, but you must not despair in the beginning. God is good!” Thus speaks Alphonsus, and man takes courage. “Always acting with moral certainty, but not always adopting the more rigorous sentiment, “ he has confidence in mercy, he experiences some joy, he looks hopefully toward God. And not only does he attain salvation, but often goes farther, and acquires perfection. This is the work of our Saint, of his writing, of his actions. Yet more, he has been the consoler of desolate Humanity. It is well Alphonsus has triumphed. He has made the confessional a consolaiton; he has installed therein goodness instead of indignation; the Father, in a word. But his mission is far from being fulfilled. In our churches reigns a timid, or rather, an affrighted silence; eyes are no longer lifted to the taberancle; the Eucharistic Majesty is dreaded; once a year the faithful are admitted, after a protracted and austere preparation, to approach the terrible altar; once a year, the banquet of the heavenly Father is spread before them; once a year they may receive their God. During the remaineder of the year, they can only remember or expect Him. Mothers in tears cannot unite themselves to the Consoler of their sorrows; sinners cannot more frequently draw from the tabernacle the strength their weakness so often needs, the children cease to remember the Eucharist. On the door of the tabernacle, the icy finger of implacable Jansenism had written: ‘The Lord is not permitted to descend into the hearts of men oftener than once a year.”
Arnauld’s book, “Frequent Communion,” has accomplished a mischief that can scarcely be undone. It has plunged Catholic souls into a lethrgy – those souls that God created to be everlasingly awake. The very movements of our hearts are arrested by the chilling touch of Jansensis. Hearts must not beat, love must no appear -fear, terror, awe -these alone are authorized. Mercy no longer dwells on our altars; the terrible God enthroned on them is always ready to hurl his thunderbolts. Frightful doctrines, which Alphonsus alone was able to undermine. This great man enters our churches; with energetic zeal he opens a passage to our altars; he ascends the steps; a finger is lovingly pointed toward the tabernacle, and a powerful voice cries out ot all Christian people.” Come, come; Love suffers strangely from your absence; Love is left alone.” Then they come. The beautiful books of the saint have reasurd all souls. And these are only echoes of the words of all the saints. Alphonsus is in perfect accord with St. Charles Borromeo and with St. Vincent de Paul; with Popes and with Councils; with Jesus Christ, above all. He has expanded, he has dilated souls. Ourhearts are more vast since his day. A moment ago, we said that he had raised MERCY to its rightful positions, amond men; the same he has done with LOVE.
Who can sum up he incomparable prayers, the effusions of love, the crimes prevented, the virtues acquired or preserved, through the influence of our Saint? He has augmented Commnions by hundreds of thousands; by hundreds of thousands then must we count up the wonders of purity, innocence, and virtue, which he has really produced in the world of souls.
There are certain men who, in closing their eyes on the sun of this world can bear themselves this magnificent testimony: “I have always loved what is great.” Well, on the bed of death every Jansenist might have said: “I have always loved what is little.” I cannot imagine a Jansenist have an elevated thought. We have seen them dry up the sources of Mercy and Love; nor did their harshness stop there, they must dry up the very sources of salvation. Their hideous doctrine of grace drove Love not only from earth, but even from heaven, so that poor, stolid humanity with tearful eye and riven soul knew not where to find it. “Jesus Christ did not die for all men, “ said the Jansenist murderers of Love; God wills to save only the predestined, and these are necessitated to do right, since man cannot resist interior grace.
Here my heart revels, my anger is enkindled.. Such were the doctrines proposed to the Christians, of the seventeenth and eighteenthcenturies! And we are astonsished that they became disgusted with such odious principles ! We are are astonished that humanity, to whom the smile of Mercy, the smile of love, the smile of Hope, were interdicted, became a Jansenist or revolutionary! I am no longer amazed at the excesses of the National Assembly (French Revolution), since I see so many Jansenists on its benches. Still less am I surprized at the excesses of the Revolution, since among its terrible actors figure so many ancient Jansenists. These men had hearts of steel! Their actions were eloquent of the fatalism and despair of their doctrines!
Well, whom does God send to restore to men the hope of an easier and more universal salvation? Who will become the consoler of wretched humanity, and open anew the beautifu paths to beatitude? It is still St. Alphonsus. He begins by laying down the principle that “God wills with a true and sincere will, that all should be saved, and none lost – that Jesus Christ died or ALL men.” Then, in his memorable book entitled “The Great Means of Prayer,” he establishes incontestably that , “God, willing the salvation of all men, has given to each the graces necessary to attain it. If He fail to give the efficacious grace, He at least gives the sufficient grace of being able actually to pray. And by prayer, every one can obtain the efficacious grace to fulfil the law, and work out his salvation.”
The most culpable of the damned, had he wished to profit by the grace of prayer common to all, would have obtained by prayer the requisite grace, and would have been saved.
Ah! At last I breathe freely. No longer is hope deadened within me. I see heaven peopled; I see the ways of salvation frequented; I see that God is Good. I can throw myself on my knee; God is not inexorable. Away with these odious Jansenist crucifixes, whose arms are so constricted; I must have wide arms, immense arms, capable of enclosing all the sinners in the world. Give me the Jesus Christ of St. Alphonsus, not him of Arnauld and Saint-Cyran.
A phenomenon which has always seemed strangely surprising to me is, that all revolutionists have been passionately attached to the Jansenists, and passionately beloved by them. It is nevertheless certain that the Jansenists were the most intolerant, morose, and illiberal of sectaries. It is equally true that we, Catholics, defended against them all human liberties, and at the same time, the cause of Mercy, Love, and Hope. But the Jansenists were rebels; that suffices for our adversaries. And above all, they were enemies of the Holy See; that explains everything. It cannot now be a matter of surprise to see among our opponents Michelet and Nicole, the sicle and the Provinciales, the Socialists even, with Saint-Cyrian and Arnauld. All rebellions are connected, and are true to each other.
Not satisfied with effacing from the world all ideas of love, goodness, and hope, the Jansenists wished also to blot out the idea of unity. They were the most ardent and the most dangerous of Gallicans. This fact is so notorious that it is unnecessary to demonstrate it. We may add that the Jansenists managed their revolt well. Yes, during two centures certain theologians used their best efforts to annihilate the idea of Infallibility, and idea which is the grandest honor of the human race; for, as the good Bishop of Lille recently said; “Man is so great that he must have for his guidance on earth a perpetual Infalliblity; and each of our little ones has a right to say to his master: ‘Do no deceive me; be infallible.’” For two centures has been exhibited the strange spectacle of a crowd kneeling before the Roman See, and crying out to the soverign Pontiff: “We see in you the Vicar of Jesus Christ, but a most fallible Vicar – perpetually fallible, necessarily fallible.” Yet the Jansenists dared to assert that they preserved Cathlic Unity. Yes, after the fashion of a branch which though lopped off, still holds on to the tree by some vegetative fibres, receiving just enough of sap to save it from immediate death, and which droops mournfully with its withered leaves, from a tree, always green, always beautiful, always living.
……..Even in the bosom of the family, the Jansenists had acquired an influence truly deplorable. They drove out Joy. We know what Jansinist education meant. The little children, were sternly treated. They must not jest or laugh too loud, or show their pretty little teeth in smiles. They were forced to submit to sacrifices which, to be meritorious must be voluntary and free. Their parents rarely mingled with them, e longinsquo auctoritas. Their home was gloomy. The feasts of Our Lady and the Saints were diminished in number. The little ones were taught to enter a church in fear and trembling – pavete ad sanctuarium meum; their sweet little eyes must not presume to wander toward the tabernacle, Such an education, I tell you, was cold, dismal, and desolate. The doctrine of St. Alphonsus has yet to trimph in the family, where a contrary system has replaced the Turkish regime of the Jansenists. Today we are in the opposite extreme; we make our children our companions; the Jansenists wished us to make them our slaves. Betweeen these extremes is true Christian education, grave but cheerful, austere but joyous, paternal and maternal – peals of laughter mingled with noble teachings, plays with lessons. St. Alphonsus has not yet wholly trimphed over the false austerity, the gloom of the Jansenists. But he who has brought back among us Love, Hope, and Goodness, will assuredly restore to us Joy. Melancholy was regarded in the Middle Ages as the eighth capital sin; Joy is a great virue, and the Church incessantly says to us; “Rejoice, again I say to you, rejoice. Gaudete, iterum gaudete! – LEON GAUTIER (Life of St. Alphonsus Liguori, by Austin Carroll)
IS JANSENISM THE REAL, MORAL REASON FOR THIS CRISIS IN THE CHURCH?
I think there is only one thing that can be the problem, really. And that is, a lack of Charity. LOVE. GOD IS LOVE. This is Catholic dogma. Jansenism, with it’s over-emphasis on Justice and vengeance, struck at the very heart and soul of religion. Once that was lost, all else quickly follows. Why can’t people accept that Faith is all about Love? Protestantism says it’s all about Faith. Dead Faith. Jansenism says it’s all about works. Dead works. But Catholicism says it’s all about Love. Why modest dress? To maintain our dignity? No. The reason is, because you don’t want to cause your neighbor to fall into sin because you love him. Without this reason, love of neighbor, modest dress means nothing to a God that is love.