Skip to comments.The Sinner's Guide - Ch 12. The First Privilege of Virtue: God's Fatherly Care of the Just
Posted on 02/11/2010 9:01:48 PM PST by GonzoII
Ven. Louis of Granada
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Ch 12. The First Privilege of Virtue:
God's Fatherly Care of the Just
The greatest privilege attached to virtue is the care which God exercises over those who serve Him. From this, as from a fountainhead, flow all other favors. Though God's providence is extended to all His creatures, yet He manifests a special care for His faithful servants. To appreciate the greatness and goodness of God's providence we must have experienced it, or attentively studied the Holy Scriptures, which, from the beginning to the end, treat either directly or indirectly of God's care for His creatures.
Throughout the Bible we behold two characteristic features: on the one hand God commanding man to obey Him, and on the other promising him, in return for this obedience, inestimable rewards. To those who disobey, He threatens the severest torments. This doctrine is so distributed through the Bible that all the moral books contain God's commands and promises and threats, while the historical books record the fulfillment of the same, manifesting how differently God deals with the just and with the wicked. All that God commands us is to love and obey Him, and in return He offers us inestimable blessings for this life and the next.
The most important of these blessings is the fatherly love and care with which He watches over His children. His solicitude for them exceeds that of any earthly father. What man ever reserved for his children an inheritance comparable to that of eternal glory? What man ever suffered for his children the torments endured by Our Saviour? At no less a price than the last drop of His Blood He purchased the Kingdom of Heaven. What can equal His constant care for us? We are ever present to His mind, and He constantly helps and supports us in all the labors of life. "Thou hast upheld me by reason of my innocence," says David, "and hast established me in thy sight forever." (Ps. 40:13). And again: "The eyes of the Lord are upon the just, and his ears unto their prayers. But the countenance of the Lord is against them that do evil things: to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth." (Ps. 33:16-17).
As the greatest reward of the Christian in this life is God's fatherly care, and as our joy and confidence must increase in proportion to our faith in this providence, we shall add here a few passages from Scripture in proof of this doctrine. In Ecclesiasticus we read, "The eyes of the Lord are upon them that fear him; he is their powerful protector, and strong stay, a defence from the heat, and a cover from the sun at noon; a preservation from stumbling, and a help from falling; he raiseth up the soul, and enlighteneth the eyes, and giveth health, life, and blessing." (Ecclus. 34:19-20).
"With the Lord," says the prophet, "shall the steps of a man be directed, and he shall like well his way. When he shall fall he shall not be bruised, for the Lord putteth his hand under him." (Ps. 36:23-24). And he says again: "Many are the afflictions of the just, but out of them all will the Lord deliver them. The Lord keepeth all their bones; not one of them shall be broken." (Ps. 33:20-21). This providence is still more strongly set forth in the Gospel, where Our Saviour affirms that not a hair of the just shall perish. (Cf. Lk. 21:18). Even stronger is His assurance expressed by the mouth of His prophet: "He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of my eye." (Zach. 2:8).
Besides this care which He Himself has for us, "He hath given his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. In their hands they shall bear thee up, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone." (Ps. 90:11-12). Thus the mission of these pure spirits is to help the just, who are their younger brethren, to walk in the way of piety. Nor does their ministry cease at death, for we read in St. Luke that the holy beggar Lazarus was carried by angels into Abraham's bosom. (Cf. Lk. 16:22). The royal prophet tells us that "the angel of the Lord shall encamp round about them that fear him, and shall deliver them." (Ps. 33:8).
We find another illustration of God's guardianship and defence of the just in the Fourth Book of Kings (4Kg. 6), where we are told that when the servant of Eliseus feared for his master, against whom the King of Syria with all his army advanced, the prophet begged the Lord to open the eyes of his servant, to show him that there were as many for Eliseus as there were coming against him. The prophet's prayer was heard, and the servants beheld the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire, and in the midst of them Eliseus. Does not the Holy Spirit will to teach us by these symbols the care with which God surrounds the just?
This protection not only delivers the just from evil and leads them to good, but turns to their profit the sins into which they are sometimes permitted to fall. For after a fall they acquire greater prudence, greater humility, and love God more tenderly for pardoning their offences and delivering them from their evils. Hence the Apostle tells us, "All things work together unto good" to them that love God. (Rom. 8:28).
And this protection God extends to the children of the just and to all their posterity, as He Himself assures us, saying, "I am the Lord thy God, mighty, jealous, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands to them that love me and keep my commandments." (Ex. 20:5-6). His words are verified in His treatment of the house of David, for whose sake He would not destroy his posterity, though they several times merited it by their crimes.
No less striking was His mercy to the children of Abraham, for whose sake He repeatedly pardoned them. He even promised that Ismael, Abraham's son, though born of a bondwoman, should "increase and multiply exceedingly," and grow into a great nation. (Gen. 17:20). He protected even the holy patriarch's servant, whom He guided in his journey and instructed in the means he should adopt to procure a wife for Isaac. He is not only merciful to servants for the sake of a good master, but He even blesses wicked masters because of just servants, as we see in the history of Joseph, whose master God visited with prosperity because of the virtuous youth who abode in his house. Who, then, would not be devoted to so generous, so grateful a Master, who watches so carefully over the interest of His servants?
Numerous are the titles which the Holy Scriptures use to express God's providence. The one most frequently recurring is the sweet name of Father, which we find not only in the Gospel but also throughout the Old Testament. Thus the Psalmist says, "As a father hath compassion on his children, so hath the Lord compassion on them that fear him; for he knoweth our frame, he remembereth that we are dust." (Ps. 102: 13-14).
But because the love of a mother is deeper and more tender than that of a father, God makes use of it to express His care and solicitude for the just. "Can a woman," He says by the mouth of His prophet, "forget her infant, so as not to have pity on the son of her womb? And if she should forget, yet will not I forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee in my hands; thy walls are always before my eyes." (Is. 49:15-16). What sweeter or more tender assurances of love could God express?
And shall we continue blind to so many proofs of His tenderness? And not content with illustrating His love for us by that of a mother, He compares His watchfulness to that of the eagle, a creature noted for its devotion to its young, saying by Moses, "As the eagle enticing her young to fly, and hovering over them, he spread his wings, and hath taken him and carried him on his shoulders." (Deut. 32:11 ). Even more forcibly did Moses express the paternal goodness of God when he told the Israelites, "The Lord thy God hath carried thee, as a man is wont to carry his little son, all the way that you have come, until you came to this place." (Deut. 1:31 ).
As our Father, God does not disdain to call us His children, His cherished children, as the prophet Jeremias attests when, speaking in the name of God, he says, "Surely Ephraim is an honorable son to me, surely he is a tender child; for since I spoke of him, I will still remember him. Therefore are my bowels troubled for him; pitying I will pity him." (Jer. 31:20). Let us ponder these words, which are uttered by God Himself, that they may inflame our hearts and move us to make some return for His affectionate tenderness to us.
It is an illustration of this same providence that God assumes the title of Shepherd. "I am the good shepherd," He tells us; "and I know mine, and mine know me." (Jn. 10:14). How dost Thou know them, O Lord? "As the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father." (Jn. 10:15). Oh! Blessed care! Oh! Sovereign providence! What happiness is comparable to this?
Hear the prophet Ezechiel, speaking in the person of God, and beautifully describing His loving watchfulness over us: "Behold I myself will seek my sheep, and will visit them. As the shepherd visiteth his flock in the day when he shall be in the midst of his sheep that were scattered, so will I visit my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the peoples, and will gather them out of the countries, and will bring them to their own land; and I will feed them in the mountains of Israel, by the rivers, and in all the habitations of the land. I will feed them in the most fruitful pastures, and their pastures shall be in the high mountains of Israel. There shall they rest on the green grass, and be fed in fat pastures upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed my sheep; and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God. I will seek that which was lost, and that which was driven away I will bring again; and I will bind up that which was broken, and I will strengthen that which was weak, and that which was fat and strong I will preserve; and I will feed them in judgment" (Ezech. 34:11-17)–---that is, with great care and tenderness.
"I will make a covenant of peace with them," the prophet continues, "and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land; and they that dwell in the wilderness shall sleep secure in the forests. And I will make them a blessing round about my hill; and I will send down the rain in its season. There shall be showers of blessing." (Ezech. 34: 25-26). In what stronger terms could God express the tenderness of His love? It is needless to say that the flock mentioned represents the just, and the fat lands and pastures the spiritual riches and treasures with which God surrounds them. The Holy Spirit makes use of the same touching figure again in the Twenty-second Psalm, where the different offices of a shepherd are portrayed.
God is our Shepherd, because He guides us; He is also our King, because He protects us; our Master, because He instructs us; our Physician, because He heals us; and our Guardian, because He watches over us. Holy Scripture is full of these names. But the tenderest of all, the one which best expresses His love, is that of Spouse, which occurs most frequently in the Canticles of Canticles, though mentioned many times in other parts of the Scriptures. With this name would He have even sinners invoke Him: "From this time call to me: Thou art my father, the guide of my virginity." (Jer. 3:4).
But why seek in Scripture various names? Cannot every name expressive of good be applied to Our Saviour? Does not he who seeks and loves Him find in Him the fulfillment of all his desires? Hence, St. Ambrose says, "We possess all things in Christ, or rather Christ is all things to us. If you would be healed of your wounds, He is a Physician; if you thirst, He is a living Fountain; if you fear death, He is your Life; if you are weary of the burden of sin, He is your Justification; if you hate darkness, He is uncreated Light; if you would reach Heaven, He is the Way; if you hunger, He is your Food." (De Virg. L.3). Behold how numerous are the titles which represent this one and indivisible God, who is all things to us for the healing of our innumerable infirmities.
We have selected a few of the passages of Scripture bearing on our subject, to comfort the just and to win and encourage souls who have not yet begun to serve God. These consoling truths will support them in labor; will reassure them in danger; will comfort them m tribulation; will inflame them with love for so good a Master, and impel them to give themselves wholly to the service of Him who gives Himself so completely to them. Thus we see that the principal foundation of the Christian life is the practical knowledge of this truth.
What are all the promises of the world compared to the assurance and hopes contained in these blessed titles? How much reason have they to rejoice who are the objects of the love of which the Scriptures speak in such beautiful terms! "Be glad in the Lord," says the prophet, "and rejoice, ye just; and glory, all ye right of heart." (Ps. 31: 11). Yes, let others rejoice in honors, in riches, or in dignities; but you who possess God for your portion enjoy an inheritance which exceeds all other blessings as far as God exceeds all created things. "They have called the people happy," says the psalmist, "that hath these things; but happy is that people whose God is the Lord." (Ps. 143:15).
Why, O prophet? Because in possessing God all things are possessed. Therefore, though I am a king and the ruler of a great nation, I will glory only in the Lord. How, then, can men refuse to serve Him who is the Source of all blessings? "What iniquity have your fathers found in me," God asks by the mouth of His prophet, "that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain? Am I become a wilderness to Israel, or a lateward springing land?" (Jer. 2:5, 31). If God complains so bitterly of the ingratitude of a people who had received from Him but temporal favors, how much more reason has He to reproach us, upon whom He has lavished so many spiritual and divine blessings!
If unmoved by the loving providence of God towards the just, at least be not insensible to the rigor with which He punishes the wicked, to whom His justice is meted out according to their own measure. For if they forget their Creator, He will forget them. If they despise Him, He will despise them. How miserable will their condition then be! They will be as a school without a master, a ship without a rudder, a flock without a shepherd. "I will not feed you," God says; "that which dieth, let it die; and that which is cut off, let it be cut off. Let the rest devour every one the flesh of his neighbor." (Zach. 11:9). "I will hide my face from them, and will consider what their last end shall be." (Deut. 32:20).
The just punishment inflicted by God on the wicked is still more plainly declared in Isaias. The prophet speaks of his people under the figure of a vine which has been carefully pruned and dressed, but has failed to bear fruit. God, therefore, pronounces sentence against it: "I will show you what I will do to my vineyard. I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be wasted. I will break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down. And I will make it desolate; it shall not be pruned, and it shall not be digged; but briers and thorns shall come up; and I will command the clouds to rain no rain upon it." (Is. 5:5-6). That is, God will take from man all the efficacious help and protection which he ungratefully refused, and will leave him to inevitable ruin and destruction.
What greater misfortune can befall a man than to be thus deprived of God's care in a world beset with dangers? With what arms will a creature so frail, helpless, and blind resist the attacks of the numerous enemies that assail him? Where will he find strength to resist them? Who will enlighten him, to enable him to avoid their snares? Without the Divine assistance, how can he avoid destruction?
But the punishment of the wicked does not end here. God not only abandons them to their weakness, but scourges them with His justice, so that the eyes which hitherto watched for their happiness now look unmoved upon their ruin. This God Himself tells us by the mouth of the prophet: "I will set my eyes upon them for evil, and not for good" (Amos 9:4)–---that is, the providence which hitherto watched for their defence will now work for vengeance on their crimes and disorders.
Even more expressive is the language of Osee: "I will be like a moth to Ephraim, and like rottenness to the house of Juda. I will be like a lioness to Ephraim, and like a lion's whelp to the house of Juda: I, I will catch, and go; I will take away, and there is none that can rescue." (Osee 5:12,14). Here also the prophet Amos, who, after telling us that God will put the wicked to the sword for their sins of covetousness, thus continues: "They shall flee, and he that shall flee of them shall not be delivered. Though they go down even to hell, thence shall my hand bring them out; and though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down. And though they be hid in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them away from there; and though they hide themselves in the depth of the sea, there will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them. And if they go into captivity before their enemies, there will I command the sword, and it shall kill them. And I will set my eyes upon them for evil, and not for good." (Amos 9:1-4).
Who can read these words, remembering that they are uttered by God, and not tremble at the misfortune of having an enemy so powerful and so relentless in seeking his destruction? What rest or peace can he enjoy who knows that God's eyes are upon him with wrath and indignation? If it be so great a calamity to lose God's love, what must it be to have His providence armed against you; to have turned against you that sword which was formerly drawn in your defence; to have your destruction now viewed without emotion by those eyes which formerly watched so solicitously for your welfare; to have that arm which hitherto sustained you now stretched forth to annihilate you; to have that Heart which in the time of your goodness breathed but love and peace fox you now filled with projects for your abasement; to have your shield and defence changed into a moth to consume you, a roaring lion to devour you? Who can sleep securely, knowing that God is over him like the rod of Jeremias to chastise him? Who can thwart the designs of God? What power can resist His arm? "Who hath resisted him," says Job, "and hath had peace?" (Job 9:4).
Numerous are the passages in Scripture in which God threatened the withdrawal of His providence as one of the most terrible punishments which He could inflict upon the sinner. "My people heard not my voice," He says, "and Israel hearkened not to me. So I let them go according to the desires of their heart. They shall walk in their own inventions." (Ps. 80:12-13). Abandoned to the desires of their corrupt hearts, they will proceed from disorder to disorder until their ruin is accomplished. What, then, is man without God, but a garden without a gardener, a ship without a pilot, a state without a ruler, an army without a general, a body without a soul?Behold, dear Christian, how God's providence encompasses you. If you are not incited to fidelity through gratitude for His paternal care, at least the fear of abandonment by Him should impel you to serve Him. For many are moved by threats and the fear of punishment, while they remain utterly insensible to the hope of favor or reward.
To our well-beloved Son, Louis of Granada, of the Order of Friars Preachers
Dearly Beloved Son, Health and Apostolic Benediction:
Your arduous and incessant labors, both for the conversion of sinners and for the guidance of souls to perfection, together with the valuable assistance you render those who are earnestly engaged in the work of the ministry, have always afforded us great consolation.
Your sermons and writings, filled with sublime doctrine and practical piety, are unceasingly drawing souls to God. This is particularly gratifying to us, for all who have profited by your teaching [and their number is very great] may be considered as so many souls gained to Christ. You have thus benefited your fellow creatures more than if you had given sight to the blind and raised the dead to life. For the knowledge of the Eternal Light and the enjoyment of the heavenly life, according as they are given to man on earth to know and enjoy, are far above the knowledge and enjoyment of the transitory goods of this world.
The charity with which you have devoted yourself to your great and important labor has gained for you many crowns.
Continue, then, to devote all your energies to the prosecution of your undertakings. Finish what you have begun, for we understand that you have some works yet incomplete. Give them to the world for the health of the sick, for the strength of the weak, for the delight of God’s servants, and for the glory of the Church both militant and triumphant.
Given at Rome the 21st of July, 1582, of our pontificate.
GREGORY PP. XIII
Venerable Louis of Granada His Life and Work
The life of Venerable Louis of Granada [1504-1588] paralleled to a remarkable degree the greatest era of the Spanish Empire-----that empire known as "the evangelizer of half the world, the hammer of heretics, and the light of the Council of Trent." Louis himself is known as "the writer of the Spanish empire." He was born only shortly after the famous year 1492, when Spain had, under King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, defeated the Moors after eight centuries of Moorish occupation and oppression in Spain and financed Christopher Columbus' momentous voyage to America. These were the times of Spain's intense exploration and missionary activity in the New World, of the Council of Trent [1548-1563], and of the great Christian victory over the Turks at Lepanto .
The end of this glorious era is marked by the great defeat in 1588 of the "invincible" Spanish Armada off the coast of England, an event which signaled the beginning of the end of Spain's brief but glorious reign as a world power. This was also the very year of Louis' death. But during the early and mid-16th century, Catholic Spain gave to the world many priceless gifts; not least of these were the books of her renowned son, Ven. Louis of Granada.
In the aftermath of the surrender of the Moors in 1492, Ferdinand and Isabella were faced with the task of making Granada a Spanish city once again. In order to hasten the influx of Spanish influence into the city and the blending of the Moorish and the Spanish people, Ferdinand and Isabella granted free entrance to the city of Granada to any Spaniard from the provinces who wished to settle there. One young couple who took advantage of this opportunity was Francis Sarria and his wife [whose name has been lost to history], a couple who in 1504 became the parents of a son named Louis, later to become famous as "Louis of Granada." Unfortunately, Francis died in 1509, and Louis and his mother were reduced to poverty, being supported by alms from the Dominican Monastery. After a few years of destitution, there occurred an event whereby Louis de Sarria's fortunes changed suddenly and dramatically. While engaged in a street fight with a boy who had insulted his mother, Louis was discovered by the Count de Tendilla, Mayor of the Alhambra, who was impressed with his courage. The Count took Louis under his patronage. Thereafter Louis spent many hours on the balconies of the Alhambra; thus, in addition to his other education, his soul was fed by the magnificent beauty of the surrounding countryside, fueling that deep love for the beauty of nature which was to be a hallmark of his thought and writing for the rest of his life. When Louis de Sarria reached young manhood, he turned his path toward the religious life. At the same Dominican Monastery where he had begged alms as an orphaned child, the Convent of the Holy Cross, he received the habit of a Friar Preacher on June 15, 1524, to the joyful tears of his beloved mother. A year later he made his religious profession. At the Convent of the Holy Cross, Friar Louis, or Fray Louis, as he was called, undertook the rigorous Dominican ratio studiorum: a review of Latin and then three years of Philosophy and three years of Theology. Among the the texts used were the works of St. Thomas Aquinas. Louis de Sarria was brilliant in scholastic disputations; he had no equal in mental capacity, application to study, and exact observance of the monastic life.
After some time, he was awarded a scholarship to the celebrated College of St. Gregory in Valladolid. Arriving there in 1529, he spent the designated eight days in preparation for taking the oath to uphold the statutes of the College; thus Louis de Sarria became formally invested in the College of St. Gregory, taking on both the honors and the obligations thereof. In the mind of the young friar, his first duty was worthily to represent Holy Cross Convent of Granada. Grateful for the confidence placed in him by his fellow religious of Holy Cross, he changed his name from Fray Louis de Sarria to Fray Louis of Granada. With such great seriousness did the Spanish ecclesiastical student of the 16th century hold his exalted position as a knight of Thomistic truth.
But there was more than learning in Louis' heart and soul. By prayer and penance, as well as study, he was preparing for a future apostolate of preaching.
In the year 1534, at the age of 30, because of his ardent longings for the apostolate, Louis stepped forward and generously offered himself as a missionary to Mexico. Although he had not yet completed his eight-year course of studies, he was willing to abandon the lecture halls. He was all prepared to leave for the Americas; but when his departure was imminent, Fray Louis' superior commanded him to cancel his trip and let another go in his place.
This was a tremendous disappointment for Fray Louis. In fact, although he obediently accepted the sacrifice, the longing for the mission field remained a thorn in his soul all his life. This event ushered in a deepening in the soul of Louis of Granada. More and more he realized that prayer, rather than study, is the way to true spiritual knowledge of Christ. He saw more clearly that his goal should be to live the life of Christ within his own soul, and then to preach Christ to others. He even began to have a distaste for study. In this regard, the writings of the famous Master John of Avila also had a great influence in j the changing of Fray Louis' attitude. At this time there also awakened in him his vocation as a spiritual writer. He desired that the riches of the spiritual treasure should be imparted to and shared by all, and the means by which he intended to diffuse them were preaching and writing. In 1539, at the age of 35, he wrote a small tract on the method of prayer for a student at St. Gregory in Valladolid who had written to him for advice: this little tract is spirituality pure and simple. It is the first lecture of Fray Louis from the chair of Spanish spirituality. This same tract was later to be transformed into a work that would make Fray Louis' name immortal:
The Book of Prayer and Meditation.
In 1544 the Dominican Order gave Louis the title of Preacher General. In 1546, he was granted the privilege of going anywhere in Spain to preach, in the company of a companion of his choosing, and no superior could prevent his preaching. During this period, Fray Louis spent much of his time traveling and preaching. He was in demand everywhere as a preacher and spiritual director-----even among the royalty. He became widely known as a holy friar, a preacher, and a man of great administrative ability.
About the year 1552, Queen Catherine of Portugal, the sister of Charles V, selected him as her confessor and advisor. Practically the rest of his life was spent in Portugal, with occasional visits to Spain. Because of his great knowledge and his practical talents, Fray Louis was frequently called upon to help settle problems arising among the royalty-----important problems upon which might hang the welfare of entire nations. But all such dealings with worldly affairs were painful to him, and appear to have constituted the greatest cross of his later life.
In addition, in 1556 he was elected Provincial of the Dominican Province of Portugal. A year later he turned down Queen Catherine's offer of the archbishopric of Braga, which would have made him Primate of Portugal. In the midst of such preoccupations, Fray Louis never forgot his apostolate of spiritual writing.
In 1554 The Book of Prayer and Meditation was published. Its success was a complete surprise, especially to Fray Louis, but it confirmed him in his vocation of spiritual writer. From that time forward he dedicated himself with a divine impatience to writing on spiritual themes for all. He led the left of an ascetic; his cell was poor and possessions meager: a wooden bed, crude table, a few books, some paper and and instruments of penance. He received quite a lot of money for his writings, all of which went to the poor. His chief virtues of excellence were meekness, humility, and good counsel.
This affable and simple religious, entirely given to the things of God, was very active and even dynamic. He rose at four in the morning and spent two hours in prayer. At six o'clock he celebrated Mass with remarkable solemnity and devotion. In those days priests were not accustomed to celebrate Mass every day, but Fray Louis never omitted it, and stated that the best preparation for the celebration of Mass was to celebrate daily. After Mass he devoted himself to a lengthy thanksgiving and then returned to his cell to begin the labors of the day.
The 16th century was a most turbulent time in the history of the Church, a time whose terrible legacy of heresy and apostasy is still with us today. [It was also a century of many, many great Saints.] There was a crying need for true Catholic reform, but many heretics had arisen to feed the faithful with stones and scorpions instead of bread. An un-Christian humanism was spreading its contagion of rebellion against God; and in 1517, when Fray Louis was 12 years old, Martin Luther took the step that was to launch the tragic heresy of external justification, a doctrine which smothered the true supernatural life of the soul and thus led to the most man-centered form of humanism. Another error which was spreading at the time was a false form of spirituality which claimed that religion should be something completely interior. A fourth error was Quietism, which discounted the effort required for the Christian soul to grow in grace and virtue. A goodly number of spiritual writers of the time fell into one or another of these traps.
Louis of Granada, on the other hand, was a voice of true orthodox Catholic reform. Although, in the confusion, he was for a time accused of heresy, this false charge was disposed of at Trent and Rome. Louis presented life in Christ as the life proper to all Christians, and he showed the essential role which the virtues play in the growth of this life. He showed how grace is essential to life in Christ, and how the Christian must receive the Sacraments and pray in order to obtain the necessary grace of God. Thus, by reading Fray Louis' true picture of the Christian life, the 16th century Catholic-----as well as the Catholic of today-----is protected against many errors and given true and powerful spiritual food. His soul is protected against man-centered humanism, against the error of external justification without an inner transformation into holiness in the soul, the error of religion as being something entirely interior and independent of laws and ceremonies, and the error that the christian need not expand an effort to grow in grace. The teaching in his works is firmly orthodox, completely Catholic.
In his 35 years of writing, Fray Louis produced 49 works. These can be classified into five categories: spiritual theology, apologetics, hagiography, sacred oratory, and translations. Some of his books are masterpieces of spiritual theology. These are The Book of Prayer and Meditation, a book that laments the miseries of life and manifests spiritual contempt for the world-----this is the one of his books that Louis loved best, and one that has served as a manual of prayer for countless souls; The Sinner's Guide [first published in 1556], a masterwork of Aristotelian symmetry and the most scholastic work of Fray Louis, a book which covers from myriad angles the virtues of the Christian life, proving that this life is the only way to true happiness [even on earth]; Introduction to the Creed, a gigantic work written in Louis' old age, but which breathes the spirit of youth. This work shows Louis' preoccupation with the conversion of the Jews and Mohammedans; he knew the Oriental mind very well, and in this book he shows, among many other things, that only Catholicism can give God due worship. This is undoubtedly his most admirable book, and modern critics never cease to be amazed at the genius that produced it.
Louis' books have been translated into 25 different languages, including Syrian, Arabic, and Japanese, in addition to the European languages. There have been some 6 thousand editions of Fray Louis' works. In fact, it is known from tales brought back by missionaries that the Japanese version of The Sinner's Guide was one of the bulwarks that sustained the faith of the Japanese Catholics during two centuries of terrible persecution, when both in Europe and Japan, Japanese Christianity was believed dead. In 1865, when missionaries were again allowed into Japan, missionary Father Bernard Petitjean was astonished to find in the hills around Nagasaki thousands of Japanese Catholics who had kept the Faith, hidden but vital, without priests, for over 200 years! Immense was the joy of these faithful ones at once again having a Catholic priest among them. The Sinner's Guide had played a providential role in sustaining the Faith in their souls during that trying time.
The works of Fray Louis were included in the precious cargo brought to the New World by the Spanish missionaries; these missionaries even translated some of Granada's works into the native Indian languages. St. Rose of Lima, too, loved the books of Fray Louis; she had them always at hand. Her favorite was The Book of Prayer and Meditation. In one of her struggles with the devil, she protected herself by reading this book; the devil became furious, snatched the book from her, and threw it onto a rubbish heap. Rose remain unmoved, certain that the Lord would return it to her-----as indeed He did.
Other famous Catholics who have read and loved the works of Venerable Louis include St. Vincent de Paul, St. Louise de Marillac, St. Francis de Sales, Cardinal Berulle and Bossuet (all French); St. Charles Borromeo (Italian), Louis of Leon (Spanish), and the Jesuit and Barnabite Orders. St. Teresa read Louis' books and commanded her nuns to do the same. She credited The Sinner's Guide with having converted over a million souls. In some religious rules and constitutions the works of Louis were mentioned as almost obligatory spiritual reading for the novices. There was no bishop in Spain in the 17th and 18th centuries who did not eulogize, recommend, and even grant indulgences for the reading of the works of Fray Louis.
St. Francis de Sales urged a Bishop-elect of his acquaintance to read the works or Louis of Granada, and to treat them as a second breviary. He advised this man to read them slowly, beginning with The Sinner's Guide.
In Advent of 1588, when he was nearly 84 years old, Louis' health was unusually poor. Nevertheless he prayed more, fasted more, and took his discipline. In December he began to have attacks of nausea and vomiting which left him extremely weakened. By December 30 all hope for his recovery was abandoned. On December 31, 1588, in the bare and humble cell at Santo Domingo where monarchs of the world had visited him, it was obvious that Fray Louis' lamp of life was almost extinguished. With tears of joy he received the Last Sacraments. The novices knelt at the door to his cell for a last farewell. Fray Louis sensed the approach of death, and asked that they place him in his coffin. Then, at nine in the evening, he breathed his last and exchanged the counting of years for eternity.
Chapter 1: The First Motive which Obliges us to Practice Virtue and to Serve God: His Being in Itself, and the Excellence of His Perfections
Chapter 2: The Second Motive which Obliges us to Practice Virtue and to Serve God: Gratitude for our Creation
Chapter 3. The Third Motive which Obliges us to Serve God: Gratitude for our Preservation and for the Government of His Providence
Chapter 4. The Fourth Motive which Obliges us to Practice Virtue: Gratitude for the Inestimable Benefit of our Redemption
Chapter 5. The Fifth Motive which Obliges us to Practice Virtue: Gratitude for our Justification
Chapter 6. The Sixth Motive which Obliges us to Practice Virtue: Gratitude for the Incomprehensible Benefit of Election
Chapter 7. The Seventh Motive for Practicing Virtue: The Thought of Death, the First of the Four Last Things
Chapter 8. The Eighth Motive for Practicing Virtue: The Thought of the Last Judgment, the Second of the Four Last Things
Chapter 9. The Ninth Motive for Practicing Virtue: The Thought of Heaven, the Third of the Four Last Things
Chapter 10. The Tenth Motive for Practicing Virtue: The Thought of Hell, the Fourth of the Four Last Things
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