Guest posts by Supertradmum
Christ has a warning for us which many ignore or do not understand. Here it is. I do not think I have ever in my adult life heard a sermon on this pericope:
Matthew 7:13-14 Douay-Rheims
13 Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat.
14 How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!
What is the narrow gate and how do we not enter it but choose the wide gate? I want to answer this question in two ways. The first is to quote a Doctor of the Church on this and the second is to give a real time, daily experience of the laity choosing the wide gate. Bear with me by reading this selection from a short sermon by St. Augustine, number 61 on the New Testament.
But what said He, when He had heard, “Are there few that be saved? Strive to enter by the strait gate.” When you hear then, “Are there few that be saved?” the Lord confirmed what He heard. Through the “strait gate” but “few” can “enter.” In another place He says Himself, “Strait and narrow is the way which leads unto life, and few there be that go thereby: but broad and spacious is the way that leads to destruction, and many there be which walk thereby.” Why rejoice we in great numbers? Give ear to me, you “few.” I know that you are “many,” who hear me, yet but “few” of you hear to obey. I see the floor, I look for the grain. And hardly is the grain seen, when the floor is being threshed; but the time is coming, that it shall be winnowed. But few then are saved in comparison of the many that shall perish. For these same “few” will constitute in themselves a great mass. When the Winnower shall come with His fan in His Hand, “He will cleanse His floor, and lay up the wheat into the garner; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.” Let not the chaff scoff at the wheat; in this He speaks truth, and deceives no one. Be then in yourselves among many a many, few though ye be in comparison of a certain many. So large a mass is to come out of this floor, as to fill the garner of heaven. For the Lord Christ would not contradict Himself, who has said, “Many there are who enter in by the narrow gate, many who go to ruin through the wide gate;” contradict Himself, who has in another place said, “Many shall come from the East and West.” “Many” then are the “few;” both “few” and “many.” Are the “few” one sort, and the “many” another? No. But the “few” are themselves the “many;” “few” in comparison of the lost, many in the society of the Angels. Hearken, dearly Beloved. The Apocalypse has this written; “After this I beheld of all languages, and nations, and tribes, a great multitude, which no man can number, coming with white robes and palms.” This is the mass of the saints. With how much clearer voice will the floor say, when it has been fanned, separated from the crowd of ungodly, and evil, and false Christians, when those who “press” and do not “touch” (for a certain woman in the Gospel“ touched,” the crowd “pressed” Christ), shall have been severed unto everlasting fire; when all they then, who are to be damned shall have been separated off, with how great assurance will the purified mass, standing at the Right Hand, fearing now for itself the admixture of no evil men, nor the loss of any of the good, now about to reign with Christ, say, “I know that the Lord is great”!
The narrow or strait gate is that of obedience. Augustine notes: “Look at your Lord, look at your Head, look at the model of your life; contemplate your Redeemer: ‘Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass me by’. In this way he shows his human will; but immediately he brings down his resistance to obedience: ‘However, not my will, but yours be done’. In the same way ought you to obey the will of God” (Sermon 296, 8).
And, for Augustine, obedience was not a question of faith but of love. If we love God, we shall almost naturally obey Him.
Now, most Catholics who are practicing can see that such sins as contraception and abortion, or adultery and extortion, are sins against the Ten Commandments and therefore, not only sins in themselves, but reveal a disobedient, rebellious character. However, there is a subtle, very subtle way for the laity to fall into disobedience which I shall explain in great detail here. The reason for this essay is to show that many good people, who want to become saints, have fallen into the way of disobedience to God’s ways. They cannot see this, as their disobedience is connected to what seems to be holy ways. One cannot choose one’s own path of holiness without considering the Teaching Magisterium of the Church. Some of the guidelines and even prohibitions regarding spiritual experiences and ways to God come from three sources from the various levels of the Teaching Magisterium, all of which we must take seriously if we want to become saints.
The CDF, which is the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican produces documents that all laity must consider seriously and not ignore. The same is true for the Congregation of the Causes of Saints. We cannot ignore or set aside these guidelines or prohibitions and pretend to be seeking holiness. To follow the teachings of these members of the Congregations is part of entering the Narrow Gate.
Experts who are theologians, priests, bishops and cardinals in full-time work in these Congregations study and research into the holiness of people and the writings of these people. Lately, in the past 40 years, these Congregations have helped us sort out bad from good visionaries, and bad from good books to read. Before St. John XXIII abolished the Index, a list of books forbidden for the laity to read on the grounds that he trusted that the laity was educated enough and smart enough to figure out false teaching, certain books were listed on this Index because they were dangerous to the faith of the People of God. In other words, somethings were terribly wrong with those books. Now, we no longer have that aid and must rely on the Vatican documents which are published to help us, and the bishops who are involved in such approval or disapproval of works.
The Vatican looks at the writings of seers, for example, carefully for doctrinal errors, as most people are not going to take the time to look into false visionaries’ works themselves. This is part of the problem of following those seers through the Wide Gate, instead of the Narrow Gate. One cannot be holy and read or study works which contain doctrinal errors. In fact, one’s own salvation is tremendously compromised by doing this. The majority of the laity do not know their faith well enough to judge works, and in face, most of the errors of false seers would be clear if people read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is that simple, sometimes, to discern.
I am going to point out, with the help of my own research and reading, and that of another priest, as well as the guidelines and prohibitions of the CDF and CCS, the two congregations listed above.
If a person wants to be a saint, holiness rests on obedience, not only for the religious, but for the lay person. To be humble is to wait, to hope, to pray, and not to contradict the findings of these Congregations. Sometimes, we need commentary to help us. That will be coming in the next article.
To be continued…
JMJ, pray for us.
God is good,