Christ stilling the waves

The Trumpeteer

  • the comfort of man

    I have been unable to get onto the Internet since Lent began, and so only now am I able to write anything. Recently I heard that the Pope commenting on the possible use of contraceptives to prevent the birth of babies with small heads caused by a new virus, said that such a course of action was a lesser evil. Now if he really has said that he then really needs to do a refresher course in moral theology, but as it is so badly taught these days, perhaps he should just apply common sense. We do not have a right to anything. Soldiers in the first world war might have been wounded in their private parts and then never been able to marry, or if they were married could never have sex again. That is simply life, and to make it bearable, we have to realize that we will never be happy in this World; it is the next World, Heaven, that matters.

    There is the case of one of the loveliest saints in the French Church Blessed Marie of the Incarnation, who incomprehensibly has not been canonized and yet her younger namesake, the founder of the Ursulines in Canada, has. Blessed Marie, usually known by her married name of Madame Acarie, was a famous Parisian beauty, known in late 16th century Paris as La Belle Acarie. She was married to Pierre Acarie, known as the lackey of the League (A group of Catholic nobility who did not want the Protestant Henri of Navarre as their king.) who was very eccentric to put it mildly. He was married to Barbe of the greatest mystics of the day, who was called “The Conscience of France” and did not seem to appreciate this fact. Madame Acarie, whose baptismal name was Barbe managed amidst her mystical transports, ecstasies, and levitations to be the perfect wife, mother, and organizer of her large household. She also managed to feed half of Paris during a great famine. Pierre, however unlike his saintly wife, was fairly incompetent, and when Henry of Navarre said “Paris is worth a Mass!” and became Henry IV of France, the bottom fell out of Pierre’s world. He was banished from Paris by Henry, and then the creditors descended on the Acarie household and Barbe saw them taking the plate off her table. She sent her sons to boarding school, and her daughters to relatives, and was not put out by Job’s comforters who told her to apprentice her sons to cobblers to learn a trade. Barbe’s brilliance with dealing with the Courts stunned the Judges, and she saved her family, and the family fortune, but at a price. Twice, when riding to visit Pierre in his exile near Paris, she broke her pelvis, and at the age of 30 was denied the happiness of marital relations, for if she conceived a child it would be fatal. Both she and Pierre accepted this sacrifice as coming from the hands of Divine Providence.

    Barbe, as a result of two visions of St. Teresa of Avila, whose autobiography she did not care for {For that matter did she care for St. Teresa, and one can sympathise with her disliking the biography, which does ramble, to put it mildly.} found herself being instrumental in founding the Discalced Carmelites in France. When Pierre died she became a lay sister in Carmel. She was appallingly badly treated by a nun there, and even worse by her cousin, the famous and overpowering, Cardinal de Berulle. She also had the stigmata. Perhaps the price she had to pay for these great gifts was the cessation of marital relations.

    Many Jesuits unfortunately try and save souls in the wrong way, by trying to make things as easy as possible, but that is missing the point. The Dominicans are quite different, after all St. Thomas Aquinas was more pessimistic about the number of souls saved than Calvin!

    An example of this tendency to make things easy for people is summed up by this little story. An elderly Capuchin confrere of mine, who had been a missionary, many years ago told it to me about 25 years ago. Fr. Edmund Delapine was his name and his ancestor was the squire who carried the Crown of Thorns in procession in front of St. Louis of France.

    This is the story. Some British soldiers in British Somali Land in World War II wanted to go to Mass on a Sunday. Now the nearest mission post was quite a way away. Those soldiers who were educated by the Jesuits said that as the mission post was over 3 miles away (In the old days you did not have to go to Mass on a Sunday if it was over 3 miles away.) they were excused from the Sunday obligation. Those soldiers who were educated by the Benedictines got hold of a truck and drove to Mass. It is a great shame that the Benedictines are not the movers and shakers in the Church, but they too may well have been tainted by Jesuit casuistry. Yes we all want to help and save people, and Pope Francis has a great and sincere love of the poor, but at the end of the day we are here to get people to Heaven, and if we can we also try and ease their burdens so much the better. However we cannot choose a lesser evil, we must choose the Cross. Ultimately we will find what to do if we simply listen to the words of Christ in the Gospel, and imitate his life. If we imitate Christ we will suffer with him, but we will also ultimately reign with him. Comfort is always a danger, the Cross always leads to Salvation.

    Perhaps the Holy Father should read about this other Blessed Marie of the Incarnation, and then canonize her; in the process he will realize that the love of God satisfies totally, whereas sex even in marriage can be both ambiguous and downright dangerous, especially in our highly sexualized society, and I am sure that Latin America is no stranger to dangerous sensuality.

    Lent is a time when we try and curb our appetites, and does not St. Paul warn us that the flesh wars against the spirit, and that is why we must ration our comforts, but never ration our love for God, which will always necessitate taking up our Cross and following him to Calvary, but ultimately to Heaven. Blessed Marie of the Incarnation pray for us.

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