100: Correcting the Christian View of Death

Yes, He is risen! Yes, Christ has conquered death! But are we ignoring the obvious?

Have Christians lost sight of the powerful natural and supernatural aspects of dealing with the end of our earthly life?

In this special 100th episode of the Art of Catholic, I bring back John Henry Crosby, founder and president of the Hildebrand Project for a fascinating discussion revolving around a small, but powerful book titled Jaws of Death: Gate of Heaven by famous 20th philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand.

You might remember both John Henry and von Hildebrand from my very first episode of the Art of Catholic. In that episode, we discussed how von Hildebrand was a major thorn in the side of Adolf Hitler.

In this episode we’ll discuss some thought-provoking insights from von Hildebrand about our passing out of this life and into the next, such as:

  • Why too many Christians take the “horror of death” too lightly
  • Identifying hints of the eternal in natural life
  • How the death of a loved one points to eternity
  • Why natural life without death would be a kind of Hell
  • The vital role of beauty in preparing us for a faithful death
  • How the virtue of hope prepares us for death

It sounds weird, but dwelling on death was never so enlightening:).

God bless!

Matthew

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How Humans Can Resemble Angels…for Better or Worse

It’s no secret that perseverance is one of the most important attributes of the spiritual life. And yet, it’s often the case that following the initial euphoria of Easter, many of us fall back into the same-old bad habits we sought to destroy during Lent.

We let down our guard and forget to keep seeking hard after the Lord. And while it’s a foolish move for all of us, for some, it’s a very dangerous game.

Let me explain.

The great Dominican, Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, tells the story of how St. Catherine of Genoa was drawn at a very early age into a deeply powerful relationship with the Lord. But after a few years of progress, she “fell off the spiritual wagon,” so to speak.

She returned to a more worldly life.

Five long years later she finally came back to her senses and threw herself back into the spiritual life out of a fervent desire to draw as close to the Lord as possible.

And she never wanted to regress again.

“If I should turn back, I should wish my eyes to be torn out, and even that would not seem sufficient.”

And maybe you’re thinking, “Whoa! That’s pretty intense!” And it is. 

But St. Catherine had finally come to the understanding that even the tiniest iota of God’s precious grace is worth more than anything andeverything this world can offer.

And thank goodness she did!

Because Father Garrigou says while some souls might squeak into eternity with a half-hearted approach, for others like Catherine, “mediocrity is not possible; if they do not give themselves entirely to God on the road of sanctity, they will belong wholly to themselves.”

Why?

Because these people have a spiritual temperament that inclines them to a kind of “all or nothing,” type attitude.

Their God-given desire for “more” is extremely powerful.

And if they don’t totally give themselves over to the pursuit of God, they’ll give themselves over to the world…completely. Once turned from God, they turn totally in on themselves and dive headlong into the dark pit that leads to eternal misery.

That’s why Fr. Garrigou says there’s a sense in which they resemble the angels.

Referencing St. Thomas Aquinas, he says, “The angel…is either very holy or very wicked; there is no middle course…Either it becomes holy, forever established in supernatural good, or it turns away from God forever.”

Of course, we have to remember that these souls only resemble the angels.

Unlike angels, our decisions are never completely final. God is always ready to receive us back when we fall.

For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him,” says 2 Chronicles 30:9.

That said, we never want to presume upon God’s mercy. That’s a sin. 

We need to persevere and turn our eyes to the Lord daily.

Regardless of our spiritual temperament, there’s absolutely zero reason to everroll the dice on eternity by toying with the sinful pleasures of this world. There’s no reason to be half-hearted in our pursuit of God.

So don’t waste the Easter graces Christ has given us!

Every one of us needs to develop the same “all in” attitude as St. Catherine so as to make real spiritual progress and be transformed in Christ.

Our relationship with Him is everything!

As St. Paul declares, “Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ” (Eph 3:8).

God bless you!

Matthew

P.S. The FREE streaming of Catholic Mysticism & the Beautiful Life of Grace ends soon! And so do the discounts for the entire Science of Sainthood experience. CHECK IT OUT HERE!

“Seriously! Why weren’t we taught this before?”

098: Spiritual Warfare & the Interior Life with Dan Burke

What if I told you the game has changed?

What if I told you that things have gotten so serious that there are often-ignored spiritual truths we have to be aware of or we’re not going to survive the current climate?

The reality is that we are at war.

The forces of darkness are trying to destroy your life. They’re trying to kill you. And it appears the battle has intensified, which means you have to be ready.

And that’s why I asked EWTN’s Dan Burke to come on to the Art of Catholic and discuss his new book Spiritual Warfare and the Discernment of Spirits.

But we’re not just talking about the warfare itself. We’re going to talk about how to deal with it and protect yourself from the Evil One.

Among other things we’ll discuss:

  • The current state of spirituality in the Church
  • Why we have to be aware of demonic forces
  • How the Ignatian rules of spirituality combat evil
  • The most important rule of them all
  • The complementarity of Carmelite & Ignatian spirituality
  • The importance of community

Spiritual warfare is real. And Dan knows what he’s talking about. This is a fascinating conversation that will open your eyes to the reality behind the spiritual curtain.

God bless!

Matthew

P.S. There’s still time to sign up for the FREE streaming of Catholic Mysticism & the Beautiful Life of Grace? Join thousands of Catholics from all over the world and be transformed this Lent! CHECK IT OUT HERE!