Catholics are losing the ability for rational discourse. Reason is out the window and emotional responses have trumped argumentation. Debate is hardly possible.
Sin creates confusion of the mind, and destroys restraints we should have learned as children regarding our emotions.
I would like to put forward the plan for combating demonic activity in one’s own mind, heart, imagination and soul, avoiding the pitfalls of hatred and false judgements online.
This plan includes using the four cardinal virtues given to us through grace, and cultivated by practice, penance, and prayer.
Let me state first that the lack of control of emotions is a sin against modesty. Modesty is connected to humility, and the devils hate humble people. Humble people have an advantage over demons, as all demons suffer from inordinate pride.
They can see this virtue which they will never, ever experience again.
As angels, including the fallen angels, have only intellect and will, they were not distracted when they fell by the senses. Still, they fell and bother us until we die.
However, the four cardinal virtues of prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude are those tools which we can use to fight online assaults by these devils.
Let me explain what each virtue is and does and then apply these to the spiritual warfare we find online. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
1803 “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”62
A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions.
The goal of a virtuous life is to become like God.63
I. THE HUMAN VIRTUES
1804 Human virtues are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They make possible ease, self-mastery, and joy in leading a morally good life. The virtuous man is he who freely practices the good.
The moral virtues are acquired by human effort. They are the fruit and seed of morally good acts; they dispose all the powers of the human being for communion with divine love.
The cardinal virtues
1805 Four virtues play a pivotal role and accordingly are called “cardinal”; all the others are grouped around them. They are: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. “If anyone loves righteousness, [Wisdom’s] labors are virtues; for she teaches temperance and prudence, justice, and courage.”64
Therefore, we have these virtues which allow us to act in an appropriate and reasonable manner in all situations. Let us look at prudence first. Prudence may be the lynchpin virtue. Again, looking at the graph as well as the wisdom of experience, one can see the necessity for Prudence in the Catholic Church. http://supertradmum-etheldredasplace.blogspot.com/2013/09/part-five-predominant-fault-and-false.html
The great sins listed there include at least one found among certain Synod fathers–carnal prudence. This is the opposite of real prudence, but as it is easier to understand, let us look at it first.
Carnal prudence is what pushes those cardinals who support sin to want to change Church doctrine. Carnal prudence makes leading Churchmen compromise. Cardinal prudence makes the laity think they have more power than they actually do. Carnal prudence makes a person not think like a Catholic–but to live in fear and only within one’s comfort zone. Self-protection and selfishness provide the fuel for carnal prudence. God asks us to use His virtue of prudence in the world to change it. Carnal prudence is worldly prudence.
St. Thomas Aquinas, and I follow his example, puts prudence as the first virtue. It is recta ratio agibilium or right reason in action. The CCC lists prudence as auriga virtutum (the charioteer of the virtues), meaning it leads the other virtues.The key word in this definition is “reason”. To think like a Catholic means that one has conformed one’s mind to the teachings of Christ and can reason, reflect, decide according to the Mind of Christ, which is the mind of the Church.
One must know things in order to act and prudence informs action with knowledge, the general knowledge of, for example, the Church’s teaching on marriage, to the specific, how one “pastors” those in irregular marriages.
Aquinas notes that the use of prudence also indicates that one has affections in order. If the passions and lower faculties are not in order, one cannot employ the virtue of prudence. Like all of the virtues, prudence can be blocked by both mortal and venial sin.
Prudence moves our entire lives, which is why it is not only a moral virtue, but an intellectual virtue.
Synderesis sees the end of one’s actions and prudence determines how one morally gets to the end, as well as seeing that end.
Prudence helps us see the true end of our actions and order our actions accordingly.
Besides carnal prudence, cunning is a sin against the virtue of prudence. Cunning involves using deceit to get to one’s end, such as lying or hiding the truth. Sadly, cunning runs the lives of too many politicians and businessmen.
Cunning is what we see online, people being clever, using soundbites, or trite phrases instead of reason.
Prudence is a virtue given to us freely by God, but we can also learn prudence, or hone it through experience. However, one may fall into carnal prudence and cunning from experience as well, if one does not guard one’s mind and soul from anger, deceit, or pride. These faults are the ones the demons stir up in us—especially pride.
A life of sin can destroy all the virtues over time so that a person becomes full of vice instead of virtue. Prudence can be ignored over and over through desire or through the avoidance of suffering until one no longer can exhibit this virtue. For example, if one never wants to suffer, and acts accordingly to avoid discomfort, one sins against prudence, which demands that one acts in accordance to truth and fortitude (courage).
Selfishness and pride can make an person imprudent, not just negligence. We usually think of negligence, such as a person who is a spendthrift, as the emblem of imprudence. but the so-called clever man or woman, who “covers all the bases” in a worldly manner is also imprudent, preferring his or hers own version of prudence rather than God’s.
One thinks of the parable of the Widow’s Mite as an example of both the greatness of heart of the woman who is acting out of prudence, as opposed to those who give only out of their excess and not out of need., which is carnal prudence.
A person of prudence takes advice from his or her superiors in the Faith, such a a spiritual director or confessor. A woman of prudence would be obedient to a good, Catholic husband. Children of prudence listen and obey their good Catholic parents, and so on. Those who write online must use prudence to judge whether a word or phrase is appropriate, or whether sharing knowledge is a good and not merely gossip. One must think and not merely react emotionally if one is truly prudent.
Avoiding the demonic influences involves humility, and the virtue of prudence shines forth in a person who is honest about his or her own sins.
The next virtue to examine is temperance, which is the most important one when one is writing online.
Temperance, which may be defined as moderation or self-restraint, is what makes a person forgiving, peaceful, not inclined to excess, and self-controlled.
Let me use Aquinas at length, as modesty, the sub-virtue of temperance, is what makes us act, write, respond in humility. A lack of control is a sin against modesty.
Here is the Catholic Encyclopedia on Temperance, followed by a short section of Thomas. One can clearly see that the CE article is based on Thomistic Philosophy
Temperance is here considered as one of the four cardinal virtues. It may be defined as the righteous habit which makes a man govern his natural appetite for pleasures of the senses in accordance with the norm prescribed by reason. In one sense temperance may be regarded as a characteristic of all the moral virtues; the moderation it enjoins is central to each of them. It is also according to St. Thomas (II-II:141:2) a special virtue. Thus, it is the virtue which bridles concupiscence or which controls the yearning for pleasures and delights which most powerfully attract the human heart. These fall mainly into three classes: some are associated with the preservation of the human individual; others with the perpetuation of the race, and others still with the well-being and comfort of human life. Under this aspect temperance has for subordinate virtues, abstinence, chastity, and modesty.Abstinence prescribes the restraint to be employed in the partaking of food and drink. Obviously the measure of this self-restraint is not constant and invariable. It is different for different persons as well as for different ends in view. The diet of an anchorite would not do for a farm labourer. Abstinence is opposed to the vices of gluttony and drunkenness. The disorder of these is that food and drink are made use of in such wise as to damage instead of benefit the bodily health. Hence gluttony and drunkenness are said to be intrinsically wrong. That does not mean, however, that they are always grievous sins. Gluttony is seldom such; drunkenness is so when it is complete, that is when it destroys the use of reason for the time being. Chastity as a part of temperance regulates the sensual satisfactions connected with the propagation of the human species. The contrary vice is lust. As these pleasures appeal with the special vehemence to human nature, it is the function of chastity to impose the norm of reason. Thus it will decide that they are altogether to be refrained from in obedience to a higher vocation or at any rate only availed of with reference to the purposes of marriage. Chastity is not fanaticism; much less is it insensibility. It is the carrying out of the mandate of temperance in a particular department where such a steadying power is acutely needed.
The virtue of modesty, as ranged under temperance, has as its task the holding in reasonable leash of the less violent human passions. It brings into service humility to set in order a man’s interior. By transfusing his estimates with truth, and increasing his self-knowledge it guards him against the radical malice of pride. It is averse to pusillanimity, the product of low views and a mean-spirited will. In the government of the exterior of a man modesty aims to make it conform to the demands of decency and decorousness (honestas). In this way his whole outward tenor of conduct and method of life fall under its sway. Such things as his attire, manner of speech, habitual bearing, style of living, have to be made to square with its injunctions. To be sure the cannot always be settled by hard and fast rules. Convention will often have a good deal to say in the case, but in turn will have its propriety determined by modesty. Other virtues are enumerated by St. Thomas as subordinate to temperance inasmuch as they imply moderation in the management of some passion. It ought to be noted, however, that in its primary and generally understood sense temperance is concerned with what is difficult for a man, not in so far as he is a rational being precisely, but rather in so far as he is an animal. The hardest duties for flesh and blood are self-restraint in the use of food and drink and of the venereal pleasures that go with the propagation of the race. That is why abstinence and chastity may be reckoned the chief and ordinary phases of this virtue. All that has been said receives additional force of we suppose that the self-control commanded by temperance is measured not only by the rule of reason but by the revealed law of God as well. It is called a cardinal virtue because the moderation required for every righteous habit has in the practice of temperance a specially trying arena. The satisfactions upon which it imposes a check are at once supremely natural and necessary in the present order of human existence. It is not, however, the greatest of moral virtues. That rank is held by prudence; then come justice, fortitude, and finally temperance.
Thomas writes on temperance and refers to modesty as well.
Origen says (Hom. viii super Luc.): “If thou wilt hear the name of this virtue, and what it was called by the philosophers, know that humility which God regards is the same as what they called metriotes, i.e. measure or moderation.” Now this evidently pertains to modesty or temperance. Therefore humility is a part of modesty or temperance.
I answer that, As stated above (137, 2, ad 1; 157, 3, ad 2), in assigning parts to a virtue we consider chiefly the likeness that results from the mode of the virtue. Now the mode of temperance, whence it chiefly derives its praise, is the restraint or suppression of the impetuosity of a passion. Hence whatever virtues restrain or suppress, and the actions which moderate the impetuosity of the emotions, are reckoned parts of temperance. Now just as meekness suppresses the movement of anger, so does humility suppress the movement of hope, which is the movement of a spirit aiming at great things. Wherefore, like meekness, humility is accounted a part of temperance. For this reason the Philosopher (Ethic. iv, 3) says that a man who aims at small things in proportion to his mode is not magnanimous but “temperate,” and such a man we may call humble. Moreover, for the reason given above (Question 160, Article 2), among the various parts of temperance, the one under which humility is comprised is modesty as understood by Tully (De Invent. Rhet. ii, 54), inasmuch as humility is nothing else than a moderation of spirit: wherefore it is written (1 Peter 3:4): “In the incorruptibility of a quiet and meek spirit.”
Reply to Objection 1. The theological virtues, whose object is our last end, which is the first principle in matters of appetite, are the causes of all the other virtues. Hence the fact that humility is caused by reverence for God does not prevent it from being a part of modesty or temperance.
Reply to Objection 2. Parts are assigned to a principal virtue by reason of a sameness, not of subject or matter, but of formal mode, as stated above (137, 2, ad 1; 157, 3, ad 2). Consequently, although humility is in the irascible as its subject, it is assigned as a part of modesty or temperance by reason of its mode.
Question 161 same part http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3161.htm
Why this is connected to modesty is the application of the virtue of temperance to meekness and quietness.
Modesty is meek and quiet. Loud talk, or raucous actions show the opposite spirit. Temperance online would manifest itself by measured language and thoughtful reflection on topics. Again, the demons HATE humility, and so, a person who is humble online will not fall into the huge problem of false judgment. A person with temperance would try to understand both sides of an argument and not make rash statements. Temperance allows a person to also love one’s enemies and do good to those who hate you….Temperance and meekness indicate that a soul has found peace within herself. What has writing online to do with this, one may ask?
Modesty does not attract anyone. Modesty humbly causes a person to be overlooked. The demons play with the person who wants to draw attention to himself. They play on pride and vanity. Cleverness or even worse, malice online are products of a mind, heart and soul which has been given over to intemperance. If one is commenting on a post or website, temperance would reveal itself in calm judgement and measured language.
Respect for others comes with temperance as well, but respect leads to the next cardinal virtue to be discussed, and that is justice. I am saving fortitude to last for a reason.
Now, the authors of the Catholic Encyclopaedia see justice as the most important virtue, whereas, it seems that Aquinas sees prudence as the most important. However, let me quote the CE here.
Justice is here taken in its ordinary and proper sense to signify the most important of the cardinal virtues. It is a moral quality or habit which perfects the will and inclines it to render to each and to all what belongs to them. Of the other cardinal virtues, prudence perfects the intellect and inclines the prudent man to act in all things according to right reason. Fortitude controls the irascible passions; and temperance moderates the appetites according as reason dictates. While fortitude and temperance are self-regarding virtues, justice has reference to others. Together with charity it regulates man’s intercourse with his fellow men. But charity leads us to help our neighbour in his need out of our own stores, while justice teaches us to give to another what belongs to him.
Because man is a person, a free and intelligent being, created in the image of God, he has a dignity and a worth vastly superior to the material and animal world by which he is surrounded. Man can know, love, and worship his Creator; he was made for that end, which he can only attain perfectly in the future, immortal, and never-ending life to which he is destined. God gave him his faculties and his liberty in order that he might freely work for the accomplishment of his destiny. He is in duty bound to strive to fulfil the designs of his Creator, he must exercise his faculties and conduct his life according to the intentions of his Lord and Master. Because he is under these obligations he is consequently invested with rights, God-given and primordial, antecedent to the State and independent of it. Such are man’s natural rights, granted to him by nature herself, sacred, as is their origin, and inviolable. Beside these he may have other rights given him by Church or State, or acquired by his own industry and exertion. All these rights, whatever be their source, are the object of the virtue of justice. Justice requires that all persons should be left in the free enjoyment of all their rights.
Perhaps, justice is the most obvious virtue used when online in com boxes and websites. Cannot we see that if we recognise the rights of others, and note that even those who are under a cloud of crime have rights, that we need to respect them? How much more so do we respect the office of the pope, the cardinals and the bishops? It is just to withhold judgement. It is just to use respectful language. Even today, a person online, and yes, it was a man, used disrespectful language when disagreeing with something I wrote. He was not being just. Wild emotions and rash thoughts are direct causes for a lack of judgement and justice. Most commentators who fall into hatred of the hierarchy, for example, lack this virtue of justice. It is most united to right reason, to rational discourse, as is prudent and as is temperance.
Ask yourself when you are writing online, “Am I being just?” Again, humility is key to defeating the demonic influences. The demons want people to argue, become divisive and the lack of justice, the lack of respect can cause division. The demons are angry that we have rights, as they gave their rights up eons ago with their decision not to follow God. When the demons fell into disobedience, they lost their sense of justice. Now, they crave the opposite. Demonic activity thrives in an atmosphere of injustice. How many bishops and priests are being slandered by this lack of justice, and how many people are falling into hatred for the hierarchy because of their incorrect sense of judgement?
The last virtue used to combat the demons online is fortitude. I have saved this until last because this is the one I need the most to carry one writing good stuff…..I get worn down by the lack of prudence, temperance, and justice. I get weary with disrespect, bad language and rudeness. Therefore, I need to meditate on fortitude and share my thoughts with you. The demons want us to give up and let the crass, rude, emotional people take over twitter, com boxes and so one. But, God wants us to use our gifts of prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude, these virtues which help us be reasonable, online.
One may label this section—How do I manifest courage online?
A bishop reminded me that the word “courage” comes from the Latin word for heart “cor”. Courage, fortitude, steadfastness, are all names for the virtue which men and women receive , along with the Theological Virtues and the other three Cardinal Virtues, at baptism.Today, after having been dissed by three people online, I am reminded that we know what to do in the face of danger. Or do we?
Why do we know? We have fortitude, or courage. All of these virtues must be used or they will go into dormancy, like unwrapped presents put back into a cupboard. Fortitude must be used. Courage does not mean one does not experience fear, which is normal, in the face of danger, but this virtue does give one the ability to act uprightly despite the feeling of fear or, as I my case, fatigue.
One continues standing up for one’s faith in the face of danger and tiredness. Fortitude brings patience and perseverance, virtues which follow fortitude. The cardinal virtues lead to other virtues, just as the capital sins lead to other sins.
Some people say to me, “Well, I would like to be a martyr, but I do not know how I would react in the face of persecution.” One can be persecuted online.
Why does someone not know? We are in bootcamp daily. We have to stand up for our Faith in the work place, in our families, even in our parishes and online.
We are given many opportunities to grow in courage, to nurture fortitude. Becoming a saint involves practicing fortitude.
We should know ourselves well enough to know how we would react to persecution.
Daily prayer prepares us. Not compromising the Faith cleanses our minds, imaginations, wills and places fear on the back burner. We learn to walk through fear and fatigue.
Since I have been very young, when I was afraid to do something, I purposefully chose to do it. I practiced fortitude.
Take that first dive off the high board, enter speech contests, work in the worst of ghetto neighbourhoods, get on a plane by myself, move to another continent, face those who are immoral and heretical in Catholic schools, colleges, universities, in the Church, homeschool in the face of derision, and so on…I chose to go against fear. I get up and go back and fight the unreasonable, rude commentators in order to show courage to God and give Him glory. In this, I gain peace.
I was not a foolhardy, choleric child, adolescent, or adult, but reflective. Fortitude is not connected to temperaments, but is a gift from God. We all have this from baptism and strengthened in confirmation. Yes, fortitude involves the mind, and fear is in the mind. The demons like us to be afraid, as those who fear DO NOTHING. The demons know that if many people give into fear, they will fall into bigotry and hatred. This is happening online. Fear causes irrational behaviour. One can practice fortitude, even if one does not feel it.
Practice makes perfect, literally.
Sometimes people who have been away from the Faith for years fear going back to Confession. They actually have the virtue hiding under all that sin, like a jewel under a pile of dead leaves, only needing a choice of the will to activate the virtue, which would come “fully alive” when one is free of mortal sin. God gives us the grace to re-vert. He moves reason with grace and we choose.
Choices are so much harder to make when one is in mortal sin, as reason falls into darkness. All the virtues inform reason. We need that special grace of conversion from God.
All the virtues lead us back to God and can become habits, and if we turn against the movement of the virtues, either through fear, which means that one is choosing cowardice, a sin, or because of spiritual sloth, we fall into greater sins. Fear and sloth lead to inaction.
Here is Aquinas on the virtue of fortitude:
Two things must be considered in the operation of fortitude. One is in regard to its choice: and thus fortitude is not about sudden occurrences: because the brave man chooses to think beforehand of the dangers that may arise, in order to be able to withstand them, or to bear them more easily: since according to Gregory (Hom. xxv in Evang.), “the blow that is foreseen strikes with less force, and we are able more easily to bear earthly wrongs, if we are forearmed with the shield of foreknowledge.” The other thing to be considered in the operation of fortitude regards the display of the virtuous habit: and in this way fortitude is chiefly about sudden occurrences, because according to the Philosopher (Ethic. iii, 8) the habit of fortitude is displayed chiefly in sudden dangers: since a habit works by way of nature. Wherefore if a person without forethought does that which pertains to virtue, when necessity urges on account of some sudden danger, this is a very strong proof that habitual fortitude is firmly seated in his mind.
And, here is the answer to those who do not know how they will react to persecution; if not habit, then reflection.
Yet is it possible for a person even without the habit of fortitude, to prepare his mind against danger by long forethought: in the same way as a brave man prepares himself when necessary. (Aquinas)
Sometimes people, even children, lie out of fear. Some people hit out at others out of fear. Some people use bad language out of fear, and some people judge others harshly out of fear.
Lying must be seen as the unwillingness to suffer. Fortitude helps us to suffer. False judgement must be seen as avoiding suffering, which is hard work. Fortitude helps us to suffer.
Choose suffering, choose life, be of strong hearts, and strong minds. Fight those demons by standing firm against their lies and sloth. To keep stating the truths of the faith online demands courage…perseverance is long-suffering. Today, I had one of those persevering-type days.
The demons are cowards. If we stand up to evil, it flees. If we use the virtues given to us, evil will be overcome. I want to end this long post by saying that it is up to us, the faithful, to fight against those demons who want to tear down the Church by causing divisions among the People of God. There are now so many small, sad groups, one wonders if there will be one schism after another, just as in the time of the great Protestant Revolt. The demons have already caused division among the clergy and bishops, so that now they have time to work on us.
Do not fall prey to their lies. Display the habitual virtues you are developing and they will flee.
Goodbye for now…
JMJ, Pray for us.
God is good,