Monthly Archives: March 2014

20130324 Poor in spirit 神貧

St. Francis de Sales devoted three chapters of the Introduction to the Devout Life to explaining the virtue of poverty.
He wrote: “`Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God;’ and if so, woe to the rich in spirit, for theirs must be the bitterness of hell. By rich in spirit I mean him whose riches engross his mind, or whose mind is buried in his riches. He is poor in spirit whose heart is not filled with the love of riches, whose mind is not set upon them.”

Poverty in riches
Regarding material possessions, St. Francis de Sales wrote, “My child, our possessions are not ours. God has given them to us to cultivate, that we may make them fruitful and profitable in His service, and so doing we shall please Him.
“And this we must do more earnestly than worldly men, for they look carefully after their property out of self-love, and we must work for the love of God.”
The saint pointed out, “There is a wide difference between having poison and being poisoned.” A Christian who uses material things with the spirit of detachment would not be harmed by the possession of wealth.
Inordinate attachment to wealth harms the soul. St. John of the Cross wrote, “It is not the things of this world that either occupy the soul or cause it harm, since they enter it not, but rather the will and desire for them, for it is these that dwell within it.”
Reason and faith tell us that wealth is not an end, but a means given us by God to provide for our needs and those of our neighbour. Moreover, riches pass away with time; we cannot take them along with us to the next world.

Charity and trust
Christ Himself joined the exercise of charity to that of poverty by saying, “Sell what you have and give it to the poor” (Mt 19:21).
Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen commented, “If we detach our hearts from earthly goods, the spirit of poverty will make us generous toward the needy.”
The most effective way of detaching ourselves from riches is to invest our wealth in the bank of heaven by giving generously to the poor and to good works.
Christ also joined the exercise of poverty to that of trust in divine Providence. He said, “You cannot be the slave both of God and of money. That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and what you are to wear. Surely life is more than food, and the body more than clothing!”
“So do not worry; do not say, ‘What are we to eat? What are we to drink? What are we to wear?’ It is the gentiles who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all. Set your hearts on His kingdom first, and on God’s saving justice, and all these other things will be given you as well” (Mt 6:24-33).
Father Gabriel explained, “The spirit of poverty will not be lasting and profound unless it is based on confidence in divine Providence. It is only when we trust in God and in His word, which will never fail, that we shall have the courage to put aside all excessive preoccupation with temporal affairs.”
“Jesus does not wish the solicitude which would engulf us entirely in temporal affairs; this would indicate not only an excessive attachment to earthly things, but also a lack of confidence in divine Providence.”
We should seek security in God and not in wealth.

在《熱心引》一書內,聖方濟.沙雷用了三整章,解釋「神貧」之德。他寫道:「『神貧的人是有福的,因為天國是他們的』,相應地說,神富的人是有禍的,因為他們要嘗到地獄之苦。我所說「神富」,是那些專注於豐盈物質、埋頭埋腦於財富的人;而神貧的人不會被財富充斥他們的心,而他們的心亦不會專注於物質。」

 

財富中的神貧

 

有關擁有物質,聖方濟.沙雷寫道:「我的孩子,在世間我們所擁有的,並不屬於我們,而是天主交給我們去培植,為侍奉祂而變得有成果,鍾悅於祂。我們要比世俗的人更懇切地去作,他們小心看顧世物是因為自愛,而我們必要為了愛天主而看顧世物。」

聖人續指出:「擁有毒藥與被毒藥毒倒有很大的分別」。一位基督徒只善用世物,不依戀世物,便不會受財富荼毒。

 

過度依戀財富會損害靈魂。聖十字架若望曾寫道:「不是世物侵佔靈魂或傷害靈魂,因為世物不能進入心靈,但是人對世物的慾念和追求會侵佔和傷害靈魂,因為它們會囤積於心。」

 

理性與信德告訴我們,財富並不是人生的終極,卻只是天主供給我們或鄰人生活的所需的工具;的確,財富會隨時間漂逝,我們死時不能帶走它。

 

愛德與信賴

 

基督把愛德與神貧相連;祂說:「變賣你所有的,施捨給窮人。(瑪竇福音19:21)」佳播.達蓮神父提點我們:「假如我們的心脫離俗物,神貧之心自會使我們對人慷慨。」

要脫離俗物最有效的方法,是要常設法積聚天堂上的財寶,用世上的財寶,慷慨地作善功,賙濟窮人。

 

基督又把神貧與信賴天主照顧相連。祂說:「你們不能事奉天主而又事奉錢財。為此,我告訴你們:不要為你們的生命憂慮吃什麼,或喝什麼;也不要為你們的身體憂慮穿什麼。難道生命不是貴於食物,身體不是貴於衣服嗎?…… 所以,你們不要憂慮說:我們吃什麼、喝什麼、穿什麼?因為這一切都是外邦人所尋求的;你們的天父原曉得你們需要這一切。你們先尋求天主的國和它的義德,這一切自會加給你們。(瑪竇福音6:24-25, 31-33)」

 

佳播.達蓮神父續解釋說:「神貧之德除非是建基於信賴天主,否則只會流於淺薄,又或不能持恆。我們堅信天主及祂不朽的諾言,自會有勇氣把對俗事過份的憂慮置於一旁。」他又說:「耶穌不想我們過份憂慮,免得被俗事完全埋沒。其實,這憂慮不僅表示我們太注重世俗的事,也表現出對天主信賴不足。」

 

我們應從天主那裡尋找安全感,並非依靠財富。

 

20130317 Chastity leads to charity 潔德導向愛德

A spiritual author wrote, “Chastity is rightly called the angelic virtue, because it likens us to the angels, who are pure by nature. It is an austere virtue, because we do not succeed in practising it unless we subdue the body and the senses by mortification.
“It is a frail virtue, tarnished by the least wilful failing. On this account it is a difficult virtue, since it cannot be observed except by a generous and constant struggle against the most tyrannical of passions.”

Two kinds
There are two kinds of chastity: continence proper to the unmarried, and conjugal chastity proper to persons living in lawful wedlock.
Regarding the first kind of chastity, St. Francis de Sales wrote, “The unmarried need a very simple sensitive purity which will drive away all over-curious thoughts and teach them to despise all merely sensual satisfactions.
“The young are apt to imagine that of which they are ignorant to be wondrous sweet, and as the foolish moth hovers around a light, and, persisting in coming too near, perishes in its inquisitive folly, so they perish through their unwise approach to forbidden pleasures.”
Regarding the second kind, the saint pointed out that conjugal chastity “lies not in total abstinence from carnal pleasures, but in self-control amid pleasures.”
Both kinds of chastity are on the path of love of God. Archbishop Fulton Sheen wrote, “God has two kinds of lovers: those who go directly to the ultimate, such as the celibate, and those who go mediately through marriage.”
Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen wrote, “One who embraces the married state becomes a collaborator with God in the transmission of life to others; one who consecrates himself to God by a vow of chastity becomes his collaborator in the transmission of the life of grace to others.
“The person who is consecrated to God sacrifices material fecundity for a far superior, spiritual fecundity, natural paternity or maternity for supernatural paternity or maternity.”

Purity of heart
St. Francis de Sales said, “Chastity of body is common enough even among unbelievers and persons addicted to other vices. But very few can say truthfully, ‘My heart is chaste.'”
The saint defined chastity of heart as a complete renunciation of all illicit affections. The other aspect of chastity of heart consists in the purity of intention of seeing God in all things and all things in God.
Prayer and work help the heart to be pure. St. John Bosco urged young people to avoid idleness. When we are absorbed in study or work, our mind can be filled with wholesome thoughts.
St. Jerome wrote, “Love the knowledge of Scripture, and you will no longer love the sins of the flesh…. Always have some work on hand, that the devil may find you busy.”
Frequent confession, love for the Holy Eucharist, and devotion to Our Lady fill our heart with love and devotion. They are effective means for the preservation of chastity.

Flight from dangers
St. Francis de Sales wrote, “Be exceedingly quick in turning aside from the slightest thing leading to impurity, for it is an evil which approaches stealthily, and in which the very smallest beginnings are apt to grow rapidly. It is always easier to fly from such evils than to cure them.”
“Do not associate with immodest persons…. On the contrary, associate with chaste and virtuous persons.”
Mortification of the senses is a guardian of chastity. Holy Scripture carefully recommends the guarding of the eyes: “Gaze not upon a maiden: lest her beauty be a stumbling block to you…. Turn away your face from a woman dressed up; and gaze not about upon another’s beauty.”
Mortification of the heart is also very important. The saints exhort us to mortify the imagination and to abandon useless day-dreaming.
“In loving you, O Christ, I am chaste; in touching you, I am pure; in possessing you, I am a virgin!” said St. Agnes.

一位靈修作者寫道:「潔德是天神之德,有如天神本性的純潔。這是一種嚴謹自律的德行,沒有自身的克制和克己善功,是很難修成潔德。同時,它是脆弱的德行,小小的歪念,足以沾污它的純潔。它是不容易修成的一種聖潔之德,需要經常適當地抑壓內心的情感。」

 

兩種潔德

 

潔德包含獨身守貞的潔德,和婚姻盟約內貞忠的潔德。

 

聖方濟.沙雷談到獨身守貞的潔德時,他寫道:「獨身守貞只需簡單直接感知的貞潔,擯除一切過份的好奇思想,蔑視所有引致感觀的快感。年青人要意識到,追尋快感、忽視禁慾、過份好奇,猶如燈蛾撲火,自取滅亡。」

 

至於婚姻盟約內貞忠的潔德,聖人指出:「這不在於完全禁止性慾,而是在快感中要自我節制。」

 

兩種潔德同是愛天主的行徑。富頓.施安總主教曾寫道:「天主有兩種愛人:一種是直接去愛天主而守獨身的人,另一種是通過婚姻去愛天主的人。」

 

佳播.德蓮神父認為:「去結婚的人,成為天主的合作者,傳遞生命給別人;去發貞潔聖願獻身於主的人,成為天主傳遞聖寵生命給別人的合作者。獻身於主的人,為了那更高尚的精神豐饒,而犧牲本性的豐饒;為了靈性的父母職,而犧牲本性的父母職。」

 

潔淨的心

 

聖方濟.沙雷說:「其實,身體的貞潔在無信仰及有其他惡習的人當中也相當普遍,但很少人能坦白地說:『我的心靈是貞潔的』。」

 

聖人所說的「內心潔淨」,一方面指棄絕一切不當的情懷,另方面是以純潔的意願,在任何事情上見到天主,也從天主內看世物。

 

祈禱和勤勞有助保守純潔的心。聖若望鮑思高敦促年青人避免賦閑,讓自己的思想忙於學習或工作。聖業樂建議:「當你喜愛聖經的知識,便不愛肉慾的罪…手頭上盡量有工作,好讓魔鬼見到你常在忙碌。」

 

勤辦告解、熱愛聖體及孝敬聖母讓心靈充滿虔敬。它們是保守潔德的有效方法。

 

遠離罪惡的危險

 

聖方濟.沙雷教道我們要盡快遠離一切能引致不潔的東西。因為邪情燃燒得很快。避免比治療容易得多。我們要遠離損友,結識益友。

 

克己是守護潔德的好方法。聖經更提醒我們,要守護好我們的眼目:不要注視女色。

 

內心的克己極其重要,聖人們勸告我們,幻想必要有節制,勿作無用的白日夢。

 

聖雅妮說:「我能遜守潔德,因為我愛祢;我因接觸到祢而變得純潔;因我擁有祢,我是貞女。」

 

 

 

20130310 Obedience consecrates heart 聽命聖化心靈

St. Francis de Sales devoted a chapter in his Introduction to the Devout Life to the virtue of obedience. He wrote, “Charity alone leads to perfection, but the three chief means for acquiring it are obedience, chastity, and poverty.
“Obedience consecrates our heart, chastity our body, and poverty our worldly goods to the love and service of God. These are the three branches of the spiritual cross, and all three must be raised upon the fourth, which is humility.”
The saint pointed out that there are two kinds of obedience, one necessary, the other voluntary. Obedience to lawful superiors is necessary obedience, whereas obedience to a confessor or spiritual director is voluntary obedience, for we do not choose our own sovereign or bishop, father or mother, but we do choose our confessor and spiritual director.

Submissive spirit
St. Francis de Sales recommends that we have a submissive spirit not only to superiors, but to equals and inferiors as well.
He wrote, “If you would acquire a ready obedience to superiors, accustom yourself to yield to your equals, giving way to their opinions where nothing wrong is involved, without arguing or peevishness; and adapt yourself easily to the wishes of your inferiors as far as you reasonably can, and avoid the exercise of stern authority so long as they do well.”
Bishop Jean Pierre Camus, a friend of St. Francis de Sales, wrote, “Because we are obliged to acknowledge our superiors as our masters, submission to them is better looked upon as justice rather than humility.
“Submission to equals is friendship and courtesy. Submission to inferiors, however, is the real test of humility, because it is in this act that we actually confess ourselves to be nothing, and prostrate ourselves before the whole world.”

Virtue of great value
St. Maximilian Kolbe wrote, “God, Who is all-knowing and all-wise, knows best what we should do to increase His glory. Through His representatives on earth He continually reveals His will to us; thus it is obedience and obedience alone that is the sure sign to us of the divine will.
“A superior may, it is true, make a mistake; but it is impossible for us to be mistaken in obeying a superior’s command. The only exception to this rule is the case of a superior’s commanding something that in even the slightest way would contravene God’s law.”
Another spiritual author wrote, “We need not hesitate through fear that the superior is asking something less perfect. Even if he commands what is objectively less perfect than its alternative (for instance, to take some rest instead of working), it would nevertheless be the more perfect thing for us.
“By the simple fact that the superior has expressed an order, it is clearly the fulfilment of that, and not something else, that God wants from us at the moment.”
St. John of the Cross said, “Obedience is a penance of the soul, and for that reason a sacrifice more acceptable than all corporal penances. Thence it happens that God loves more the least degree of obedience in you, than all the other services you may think to render him.”
Our Lord told St. Faustina, “My daughter, know that you give Me greater glory by a single act of obedience than by long prayers and mortifications.”
On another occasion Our Lord said, “Anything, no matter how small it be, that has the seal of obedience to my representative, is pleasing to Me and great in My eyes.”
Bishop Louis LaRavoire Morrow, author of My Catholic Faith, wrote, “If we fast, give alms, or lose our reputation for God’s sake, we only give a part of ourselves. But if we give perfect obedience, we sacrifice our will; we give all we have. We have nothing more to give.”

在《熱心引》一書內,聖方濟.沙雷用了一整章,推崇「聽命」之德。他寫道:「愛德領我們成義;但得到愛德的三大方法是:聽命、貞潔和神貧。聽命聖化我們的心靈,貞潔聖化我們的肉身,而神貧聖化我們的物質。這三個是靈性十字架的枝幹,豎立在謙遜之德上。」

 

聖人指出,聽命有兩種:一種是必然聽命,另一種是自願的聽命。服從合法的長上是屬於必然的聽命;服從神師或聽告解神父,則屬於自願的聽命,因為我們不能選擇管治者或主教、父親或母親,但我們可以自由選擇聽告解神父或神師。

 

服從精神

 

聖方濟.沙雷建議我們,不僅對長上服從,對同級、甚至下級的,都遜守服從的美德:「假如你經常性地服從你的長上,那麼,嘗試伸延到這樣對待你的同級,接受他們正確的意見,避免爭辯或氣怒;對於你的下屬,常用廣闊的胸襟,迎合他們合理的要求,別常擺起架子以示自己的權威。」

 

若望嘉模主教是聖方濟.沙雷的朋友。他曾補充寫道:「正因我們視長上為主人,對他們順從是出於公義多於謙遜;順從同級的人,皆因友誼及善意;順從下屬則是實踐謙遜的真考驗,我們藉此承認自己的虛無,並俯伏在全世界前。」

 

珍貴之德

 

聖高比寫道:「全知及無比智慧的天主,祂確知道我們可以如何光榮祂。天主不斷通過祂在世的代表,給我們顯示祂的聖意;所以,我們的聽命是確保承行天主意旨的方法。不錯,我們的長上會犯錯,但聽命的人是不會犯錯的。唯一例外的,就是長上的指令有違天主的誡命。」

 

一位靈修作者指出:「長上一個簡單的指令,即使不是最完美事,我們亦不需質疑,因為我們聽命於長上,等於聽命於天主。我們的聽命就是做天主在那一刻願意我們做的事。」

 

聖十字架若望說過:「聽命是靈魂的補贖,比肉身克苦的補贖更被天主悅納。所以,天主鍾悅小小的聽命,甚於其它的事工。」

 

吾主對聖傅天娜說:「我的女兒,你一次的聽命,比較長時間的祈禱及克己,更能光榮我。」另外,祂又說:「服從代表我的人,那怕只是小小的事情,足使我喜悅,也在我的眼中是為大的。」

 

《我的天主教信仰》一書的作者、類斯.莫朗主教說:「如果我們守嚴齋、行哀矜,或因天主而受辱,我們只是奉獻了部份;但如果我們奉行完全的聽命,我們就是犧牲我們的意志;我們便奉獻了一切。」