Posted by Brian Williams
There is something missing from many of our discussions within the Church today. Actually, it’s been missing for decades: a sense of the supernatural. Amid all the talk of lost sheep and pastoral practices, we often find a near total absence of consideration for the fate of the eternal soul. Feelings have replaced truth, and the temporal has trumped the supernatural, even within Holy Mother Church.
The Old Catholic Encyclopedia describes the Supernatural Order as “the ensemble of effects exceeding the powers of the created universe and gratuitously produced by God for the purpose of raising the rational creature above its native sphere to a God-like life and destiny.” It goes on to explain that man is elevated to a state of grace here and glory hereafter.
The need to remain in a state of grace, the overriding urgency to avoid mortal sin, has largely disappeared from the ongoing ecclesial conversation. Those who read this blog regularly know that I frequently turn to Father Francis Spirago’s The Catechism Explained for clarity where presently there is much confusion.
“Mortal sin deprives a man of sanctifying grace,” writes Fr. Spirago, “and delivers him into the power of the devil.” He goes on to explain the devastation caused by sin:
The Holy Ghost departs immediately from one who has committed a mortal sin…(mortal) sin is a thief, for it gains access to the soul, it robs it of grace, it’s most precious treasure…It is the death of the soul…
Saint John Chrysostom, speaking in a manner which is sorely needed in our terribly lost and wounded world, said that “sinners are dead while they live, and the just live after they are dead.”
Through mortal sin we lose the supernatural beauty of the soul. Father Spirago goes on to describe how a world mired in sin can become such a cold, evil, place:
When the earth travels away from the sun, winter sets in; so the heart of man becomes cold when it is estranged from God by mortal sin…
He also explains why reason seems to escape so many who languish in sin:
The understanding is completely darkened by mortal sin. As heavy clouds hide the light of the sun from our sight…so mortal sin obscures the eyes of reason, and renders us incapable of perceiving the brightness of the Sun of justice.
In language that is both charitable and pastoral due to its absolute clarity and honesty, Father writes, “Mortal sin brings down upon the sinner both eternal damnation and temporal chastisement.” Wow.
What is tragic is that the radical, secular, humanism which stands as the antithesis to the Church today has incorporated the language of certainty just as we have abandoned it. The conviction and clarity of the eternal truths espoused by Holy Mother Church are presented in an almost apologetic manner. Sadly, while we hem and haw about the supernatural truths of the Faith, the left (including many within the Church) boldly proclaims the lie of relativism that no longer really believes in sin or eternal damnation.
Our Christian hope, however, is never dashed as we know what must happen in order to live in a state of grace now, and to one day enjoy the beatific vision. Returning to The Catechism Explained:
When the sinner cooperates with actual grace, the Holy Ghost enters his soul and confers on it a brightness and beauty which claim the friendship of God. This indwelling beauty of the soul is due to the presence of the Holy Spirit and is called “sanctifying grace”.
This. This is Truth. This is what is too often missing from our “dialogue” and “accompaniment”. Our world lacks grace. Too many roam the world absent the presence of the Holy Spirit in their soul. We need to teach this clearly and unabashedly.
Father Spirago lists for us some of the effects of the Holy Spirit when He acts upon us by His grace. It is the medicine much needed by our very ailing world:
1. He (the Holy Spirit) purifies us from all mortal sin.
2. He unites us to God and makes us into temples of God.
3. He illumines the mind, and makes the divine and moral precepts possible.
4. He gives us true peace.
5. He becomes our Teacher and Guide.
6. He inspires us to do good works and makes them meritorious for the kingdom of heaven.
7. He makes us children of God and heirs of heaven.
Pray that we may see a return of more clarity, and not less, in the coming years. Pray that the Church recovers the lost sense of the supernatural that is missing today. May we rediscover the necessity of teaching and preaching on the need to live in a state of grace and to avoid mortal sin at all cost. Through a return to the bold teachings and timeless truths of the Faith we will cooperate with God at a time when our world so badly needs it.