Skip to comments.The Sinner's Guide - Ch 14. The Third Privilege of Virtue
Posted on 02/14/2010 8:44:56 PM PST by GonzoII
Ven. Louis of Granada
With Imprimi Potest and Imprimatur
TAN BOOKS AND PUBLISHERS, INC.
Motives for Practising Virtue
Ch 14. The Third Privilege of Virtue:
The Supernatural Light and Knowledge
granted to Virtuous Souls
The heavenly light and wisdom with which God enlightens the just form the third reward of virtue. And this blessing, as well as all the others, is the effect of that grace which not only rules our appetites and strengthens our will, but removes the darkness of sin from our understanding and enables us to know and fulfill our duty.
St. Gregory tells us that ignorance of our duty, as well as inability to do our duty, are alike punishments of sin. (Moral. L. 25, c. 9.). Hence, David so frequently repeats, "The Lord is my light" against ignorance, "the Lord is my salvation" against weakness. (Ps. 26:1). On the one side He teaches us what we should desire, and on the other He strengthens us to execute our desires. And both of these favors are bestowed on us through grace. For in addition to a habit of faith and infused wisdom which teach us what we are to believe and practice, grace imparts to us the gifts of the Holy Ghost.
Four of these gifts relate particularly to the understanding: wisdom, which instructs us in spiritual and sublime things; knowledge, which informs us of the things of earth and time; understanding, which helps us appreciate the beauty and harmony of the divine mysteries; and counsel, which guides and directs us amidst the difficulties which we encounter in the path of virtue.
These gifts are so many rays of light which proceed from the divine center of grace, and in Scripture are called an unction or anointing. "But you have the unction from the Holy One, and know all things." (1Jn. 2:20). Oil has the double virtue of giving light and healing, and fitly represents the divine unction which enlightens the darkness of our understanding and heals the wounds of our will. This is the oil which exceeds in value the purest balsam, and for which David rejoiced when he said: Thou, O Lord, hast anointed my head with oil. (Cf. Ps. 22:5). It is evident that the royal prophet did not speak here of a material oil, and that by the head, he designated, according to the interpretation of Didymus, the noblest pan of the soul, or the understanding, which is illumined and supported by the unction of the Holy Spirit.
Since it is the property and function of grace to make us virtuous, we must love virtue and abhor sin, which we cannot do if the understanding be not divinely enlightened to discern the malice of sin and the beauty of virtue. For the will, according to philosophers and theologians, is a blind faculty, incapable of acting without the guidance of the intellect, which points out the good it should choose and love, and the evil it should reject and hate. The same is true of fear, of hope, and of hatred for sin. We can never acquire these sentiments without a just knowledge of the goodness of God and the malice of sin.
Grace, as you have already learned, causes God to dwell in our souls; and as God, in the words of St. John, is "the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world" (Jn. 1:9), the purer a soul is, the brighter will this Light shine in her-----just as glass, according as it is clearer, reflects more strongly the rays of the sun. Hence, St. Augustine calls God the "wisdom of a purified soul" (De Lib. Arbit., L. 2), because He fills her with His light, which enables her to apprehend all that is necessary for salvation.
Nor should this surprise us when we consider with what care God provides even the brute creation with all that is necessary for the maintenance of life. For whence is that natural instinct which teaches the sheep to distinguish among plants those which are poisonous and those which are wholesome? Who has taught them to run from the wolf and to follow the dog? Was it not God, the Author of nature? Since, then, God endows the brute creation with the discernment necessary for the preservation of animal life, have we not much more reason to feel that He will communicate to the just the knowledge necessary for the maintenance of their spiritual life?
This example teaches us not only that such a knowledge really exists, but also marks the character of this knowledge. It is not a mere theory or speculation; it is eminently practical. Hence the difference between knowledge divinely communicated and that which is acquired in the schools. The latter only illumines the intellect, but the former, the inspirations of the Holy Ghost, communicates itself to the will, strengthens it for good, governs and stimulates it. By its efficacious virtue this Divine knowledge penetrates into the depths of the soul, of t transforms our passions, and remodels us upon the likeness of Christ. Hence, the Apostle tells us, "The word of God is living and effectual, and more piercing than any two edged sword, and reaching unto the division of the soul and spirit" (Heb. 4:12)-----that is, separating the spiritual man from the animal man.
This, then, is one of the principal effects of grace, and one of the most beautiful rewards of virtue in this life. But to prove this truth more clearly to carnal men, who reluctantly accept it, we will confirm it by undeniable passages from both the Old and the New Testament. In the New Testament, Our Saviour tells us, "The Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you." (Jn. 14:26). And again, "It is written in the prophets: And they shall all be taught of God. Every one that hath heard of the Father, and hath learned, cometh to me." (Jn. 6:45).
Numerous are the passages in the Old Testament which promise this wisdom to the just. "I am the Lord thy God, that teach thee profitable things, that govern thee in the way that thou walkest." (Is. 48:17). "The mouth of the just," says David, "shall meditate wisdom, and his tongue shall speak judgment." (Ps. 36:30). Throughout the one hundred and eighteenth Psalm, how frequent is his prayer for this divine wisdom! "Blessed art thou, O Lord: teach me thy justifications. Open thou my eyes, and I will consider the wondrous things of thy law. Give me understanding, and I will search thy law; and I will keep it with my whole heart."
Shall we not, therefore, appreciate the happiness and honor of possessing such a Master, from whom we may learn sublime lessons of immortal wisdom? "If Apollonius," says St. Jerome, "traversed the greater part of the world to behold Hipparchus seated upon a golden throne in the midst of his disciples, and explaining to them the movements of the heavenly bodies, what should not men do to hear God, from the throne of their hearts, instructing them, not upon the motions of the heavenly bodies, but how they may advance to the heavenly kingdom?"
If you would appreciate the value of this doctrine, hear how it is extolled by the prophet in the psalm from which we have already quoted: "I have understood more than all my teachers," he exclaims, "because thy testimonies are my meditation. I have had understanding above ancients, because I have sought thy commandments." (Ps. 118:99-100). More expressive still are the words in which Isaias enumerates the blessings promised to God's servants: "The Lord will give thee rest continually, and will fill thy soul with brightness, and deliver thy bones, and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a fountain of water whose waters shall not fail." (Is. 58:11).
What is this brightness–----with which God fills the soul of the just–----but that clear knowledge of all that is necessary for salvation? He shows them the beauty of virtue and the deformity of vice. He reveals to them the vanity of this world, the treasures of grace, the greatness of eternal glory, and the sweetness of the consolations of the Holy Spirit. He teaches them to apprehend the goodness of God, the malice of the evil one, the shortness of life, and the fatal error of those whose hopes are centered in this world alone. Hence the equanimity of the just. They are neither puffed up by prosperity nor cast down by adversity. "A holy man," says Solomon, "continueth in wisdom as the sun, but a fool is changed as the moon." (Ecclus. 27:12). Unmoved by the winds of false doctrine, the just man continues steadfast in Christ, immovable in charity, unswerving in faith.
Be not astonished at the effect of this wisdom, for it is not earthly, but divine. Is there anything of earth to be compared with it? "The finest gold shall not purchase it, neither shall silver be weighed in exchange for it. It cannot be compared with the … most precious stone sardonyx, or the sapphire. The fear of the Lord is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding." (Job 28:15-16,28).
And this wisdom increases in the just, for Solomon tells us, "The path of the just, as a shining light, goeth forwards and increaseth even to perfect day" (Prov. 4:18), the beginning of a blessed eternity, when God's wisdom and beauty will be revealed to us in all their brightness and power.
This great gift is the portion of the just only, for the wicked are plunged in an ignorance so intense that it was well symbolized by the darkness which covered the land of Egypt. The wicked themselves confess their blindness, "We looked for light, and behold darkness; brightness, and we have walked in the dark. We have groped for the wall, like the blind, and we have groped as if we had no eyes; we have stumbled at noonday as in darkness; we are in dark places as dead men." (Is. 59:9-10).
What can equal the blindness of him who sells eternal happiness for the fleeting and bitter pleasures of this world? How incomprehensible is the ignorance of him who neither fears Hell nor strives for Heaven; who feels no horror for sin; who disregards the menaces as well as the promises of God; who makes no preparation for death, which hourly seizes its victims; who does not see that momentary joys here are laying up for him eternal torments hereafter! "They have not known or understood; they walk on in the darkness" (Ps. 81:5) of sin through this life, and will pass from it to the eternal darkness of the life to come.
Before concluding this chapter we would make the following suggestion: Notwithstanding the power and efficacy of this wisdom with which God fills the souls of the just, no man, however great the light he has received, should refuse to submit his judgment to his lawful superiors, especially the authorized teachers and doctors of the Church. Who ever received greater light than St. Paul, who was raised to the third heaven; or than Moses, who spoke face to face with God? Yet St. Paul went to Jerusalem to confer with the Apostles upon the Gospel which he had received from Christ Himself; and Moses did not disdain to accept the advice of his father-in-law, Jethro, who was a Gentile.
For the interior aids of grace do not exclude the exterior succors of the Church. Divine Providence has willed to make them both an aid to our salvation. As the natural heat of our body is stimulated by that of the sun, and the healing powers of nature are aided by exterior remedies, so the light of grace is strengthened by the teaching and direction of the Church. Whoever refuses, therefore, to humble himself and submit to her authority will render himself unworthy of any favor from God.
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
Chapter 11. The Eleventh Motive for Practicing Virtue: The Inestimable Advantages Promised It Even in this Life
Chapter 12. The First Privilege of Virtue: God's Fatherly Care of the Just
Chapter 13. The Second Privilege of Virtue: The Grace with which the Holy Spirit fills Devout Souls
Chapter 14. The Third Privilege of Virtue: The Supernatural Light and Knowledge granted to Virtuous Souls
Thank you for the posting.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.