Sunday, October 04, 2009

Final perseverance.


Years ago one of my spiritual directors recommended to me that I pray daily for a happy death - in other words, final perseverance. Nevertheless, at the time I was unable to view death as anything more than a liberation from earth's exile, propelling the soul into the arms of Divine Mercy. I had just assisted at my mother's happy death, and was doing so well spiritually myself (I know! Such pride!), and I had such confidence in my confidence - I didn't take Father's admonition with any sense of urgently. Although I tried obediently to add the intention to my daily prayers as he advised.
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I still do - only now with a greater sense of urgency. All too often I've seen how easily the gift of faith can be lost.
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"That we can never in this life be certain of our final perseverance is defined by the Council of Trent (Sess. VI, can. xvi): "Si quis magnum illud usque in finem perseverantiae donum se certo habiturum, absoluta et infallibili certitudine dixerit, nisi hoc ex speciali revelatione dedicerit, anathema sit". What places it beyond our meriting power is the obvious fact that revelation nowhere offers final perseverance, with it retinue of efficacious graces and its crown of a good death, as a reward for our actions, but, on the contrary, constantly reminds us that, as the Council of Trent puts it, "the gift of perseverance can come only from Him who has the power to confirm the standing and to raise the fallen". However, from our incapacity to certainly know and to strictly merit the great gift, we should not infer that nothing can be done towards it.
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Theologians unite in saying that final perseverance comes under the impetrative power of prayer and St. Alphonsus Liguori (Prayer, the great means of Salvation) would make it the dominant note and burden of our daily petitions. The sometimes distressing presentation of the present matter in the pulpit is due to the many sides of the problem, the impossibility of viewing them all in one sermon, and the idiosyncrasies of the speakers. Nor should the timorousness of the saints, graphically described by Newman, be so construed as to contradict the admonition of the Council of Trent, that "all should place the firmest hope in the succour of God". Singularly comforting is the teaching of such saints as St. Francis de Sales (Camus, "The Spirit of St. Francis de Sales", III, xiii) and St. Catherine of Genoa (Treatise of Purgatory, iv). They dwell on God's great mercy in granting final perseverance, and even in the case of notorious sinners they do not lose hope: God suffuses the sinners' dying hour with an extraordinary light and, showing them the hideousness of sin contrasting with His own infinite beauty, He makes a final appeal to them. For those only who, even then, obstinately cling to their sin does the saying of Sirach 5:7, assume a sombre meaning "mercy and wrath quickly come from him, and his wrath looketh upon sinners".
- Source

2 comments:

  1. Terry, I know a Carmelite nun who lived to be in her nineties, who prayed every day at the Liturgy of the Hours "to persevere in the love of God"...God bless Sr. Magdalene; may she rest in the Father's arms...what a wonderful witness to clinging to the Lord in hope and charity; never taking anything for granted!

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  2. That is beautiful and a wonderful reminder. Thanks Father.

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