An Ecology of the Soul by Father le Roux

Went to mass a few years ago, to a traditional Roman Catholic parish, between my trips for my job working for the government in the middle east. A sermon by a priest at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary given on 1 February 2018 was on a handout which talked about the soul and things we should consider with regards to it, by what I consider an expert, a Roman Catholic priest. This is it in its entirety with brackets like “[ ]” denoting my additions, mostly the Bible cites which he referenced but did not annotate, as to the chapter and verse, in his sermon.

Dear Friends and Benefactors,

      At the end of last century, just when an unprecedented hedonistic surge broke upon the world, the rules of penance were considerably relaxed by the Church.  Empowered by this unexpected liberality of Churchmen, the man in the street hastened to remove penance from his daily life.

     Nothing more catastrophic could have happened to him.

     Penance is not a luxury. It is, according to the forceful words of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a matter of survival: “If you do not do penance, you will all Perish.” [Luke 13:5] Our Lord is severe on this question, thus hoping to wan those who, in their daily lives, behave as if their souls were not deeply wounded by original sin.

     Baptism certainly purifies the soul of the stain contracted by original sin and introduces it into a wonderful friendship and intimacy with God by plunging into the divine Life. Nonetheless, the soul still remains wounded by the sin of our first parents.

     From the moment of that disastrous fall, a catalogue of wounds has infected man’s faculties.   His intelligence, dazzled by its own excellence, is blinded and cannot advance with certainty… His will is infected by such and intrinsic malice that even St. Paul had to say that he was only able to do the evil that he did not want to do and unable to do the good to which he aspired [Roman 7:19].   Weak and cowardly before the obstacles raised in his path, man finds himself unable to fight against the difficulties of life.  Lastly, pleasure exercises on him such a fascination that he is easy prey to the constant call to gratification arising from his senses.

      The multiple wounds that man carries I his soul and body handicap him, rendering him incapable of true freedom.  In this context, the words of Our Lord take on a new clarity and certainty. “Without Me, you can do nothing.” [John 15:5] Grace is a need for our fallen nature.

      However, as St. Augustine reminds us: “God, Who created you without you, will not save you without you.”  We really have to take part in our redemption by uniting our forces with grace.

      But the question can arise: do we really have any forces available to us when our faculties have been so affected by original sin? Shouldn’t we be realistic and take the words of Our Lord literally and accept that we cannot do anything?  

      This is what Quietism proposed, and it was condemned by the Church.  It is only a disguised form of Protestantism, which insists that any human act is evil and perverted.  This is false.  Human nature has been seriously damaged by the sin of Adam and Eve, but it is not destroyed, as Protestantism teaches.  Moreover, grace is not a higher nature which exists by itself, independently of our human nature.  It is a quality which purifies, heals and deifies our nature. Thus, we say that grace “builds on” nature. Still, it is necessary that this nature is open to grace’s beneficial presence.

     This is precisely where penance comes into play.  It makes it possible for the soul to open itself to the action of grace by detaching us from our ordinary inclinations towards lowly things, resolutely turning us towards the higher realities that lead us to Heaven.

     Our blinded intelligence mistakes the glittering trinkets presented by our senses to be shining treasures. It obstinately chases after them, encouraged as it is by our will, so ready to pursue wickedness. There is in our will such a wound of malice that it seems to find a perverse delight in inclining towards evil. It is a law that we know well and from which we all suffer.

      Fortunately, penance vigorously opposes this filthy torrent that threatens to drown us. It reins in our wounded nature and it builds barricades to contain the impetuous flood of passions.

      At the beginning, the barricade may seem laughable, because it is only a weak pile of brushwood that more or less manages to float. But if we persevere, while placing ourselves under the dominance of grace, this frail construction will become a true blockade that will make it possible to control the impetuous torrent of wounded nature, to drain the marsh of our passions and to plant the deep roots of Christian virtues in order to produce fruits of holiness.

     Penance not only purifies and heals our souls, turning them into a divine meadow; it also enables us to be identified with Christ in His Passion, allowing His cross to shape our souls and bring them into ever greater conformity with His.  It then, in union with Christ in His Passion, makes it possible to obtain graces for our neighbor, thus becoming a powerful means of apostolate.

     In Fatima, the Most Blessed Virgin insisted, vigorously and repeatedly, that penance is much needed in this apostate world.  Maternally, in her goodness, she has let us know that, from now on, the only penance that God expects from us is the faithful accomplishment of our duty of state.

     Let us listen to her. Let us not allow our souls to wither away because of the sins that pollute them.

     Today, men have become more aware of their duty to live more healthily and preserve the environment that, coming from the hands of God, has been disfigured by their greed.  It would be infinitely more useful for them to launch themselves into a work of supernatural ecology, making of this coming Lent a means of conversion and identification with Christ.

     With joy, let us follow our Head and take up our share of His penance in order to rise with Him on Easter morning.

                      In Christo Sacerdote et Maria.

                                                                                                                 Fr. Le Roux

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