by Fr Richard Heilman | July 26, 2018 4:24 AM
Peace Through Strength
The Challenge to Enter the Supernatural Life
“The Lord will give strength to his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.” -Psalm 29:11
The Doorway to the Divine Life
By Fr. Richard Heilman
On day two of our “Peace Through Strength Challenge,” Sam Guzman of Catholic Gentleman pointed out the crippling fears that can, actually, be the underlying source of many of our trials and tribulations; the source of sin and suffering. It’s true, and Sam goes on to say, “If fear is as powerful as it is, the question arises, why are we so afraid? I believe the answer lies in our deep awareness of our creatureliness and our broken communion with God.” Sam is, actually, speaking directly to an even deeper underlying problem which has led to an epidemic of depression, addictions and, tragically, suicide in our time.
I wrote about “The Day I Discovered the Greatest and Deepest Truth” (You can read the full article HERE). In a nutshell, on that amazing day at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, I felt I had broken through to an understanding that revealed the very “Doorway to the Divine Life.” And, what is that doorway? Ironically, it refers to another kind of fear … the good kind … and it is called “Fear of the Lord.”
Let me say, first, that I believe we are passing through one of the most perilous periods in history. This modern strategy from the father of lies is actually as old as the Garden of Eden itself. It is simply to convince us we do not need God (Gen. 3:5-6), nor do we need His strength and His power (Eph. 6:10). Once the devil has us convinced that we can challenge him under our own natural power, or simply deny that he even exists, he’s cut us off from the only real power capable of defeating him: God’s supernatural grace. This disconnection from the Divine Life has left us weak and vulnerable to attack.
Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, the Catholic Church, established by Jesus Christ, is meant to be the rock bed foundation (Matthew 7:24-27) for a strong culture. Morals, principals, values, virtues, ethics are all drawn from a “strong” connection to God. Without this connection, we are left to flounder and fight and fixate on our own base, animalistic desires. Possibly more than any other time in history, Satan has been successful in disconnecting us from the Divine Life. How did Satan do it?
Recall that the inspiration for this “Peace Through Strength Challenge” comes from the famous quote by President Ronald Regan: “We maintain the peace through our strength; weakness only invites aggression.” Knowingly or unknowingly, leading aggressive progressive figures in the Church, immediately following the Council of Vatican II, set out to de-mythologize our faith; a flat-out rejection of the supernatural power of God.
By the time I entered seminary in the 1980s, we were not offered one minute of Eucharistic Adoration in all of our seminary training. Also, if someone was known to pray the rosary and have a devotion to Our Lady, they were treated as a dangerous fanatic and, either attempts were made to, in essence, deprogram them, or (failing that) they were asked to leave seminary. In those days, hundreds of devout young men never made it through to priesthood, due to this “sifting out” of anyone who actually believed, too strongly, in the supernatural power of God.
Leading aggressive progressive figures in the Church seemed to be embarrassed by any belief in the supernatural power of God. Seminary scripture study courses often attempted to explain away miracles in the Bible. Even, to this day, devoted “strong” Catholics are mocked as rigid and fanatical and attempts are made to marginalize them as they are seen as the source of division in the Church today. Focus is placed, instead, on trending liberal themes that placate the radical secular ruling class. One cannot help but think back to the scene with Judas conspiring with the ruling class of his day.
So, where do we go from here? I believe we have been going in the right direction – the direction of God – for some time now. Belief in the supernatural is on the rise, especially among millennials, and push-back from aggressive progressive leaders in the Church is waning.
Many are coming to understand what I discover on that day, February 2, 1998 at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Like so many, I believe I was awakened to the understanding that we, by and large (thanks to aggressive progressive Church leaders), removed the very doorway into the Divine Life. And, in our times, our highest priority must be focused squarely on leading souls to this “doorway.” Let me explain …
I wholeheartedly agree with Pope St. Gregory the Great who, wanting to capture the spiritual dynamism of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, posited the following order:
“Through the fear of the Lord, we rise to piety, from piety then to knowledge, from knowledge we derive strength, from strength counsel, with counsel we move toward understanding, and with intelligence toward wisdom and thus, by the sevenfold grace of the Spirit, there opens to us at the end of the ascent the entrance to the life of Heaven” (“Homiliae in Hiezechihelem Prophetam,” II 7,7).
Once I discovered Pope St. Gregory the Great’s ordering of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, my logical mind thought, “Okay, if I want all of the Gifts — the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit — then I need to go through the very first Gift of the Holy Spirit to get to the rest.” That makes the first Gift of the Holy Spirit the doorway into the proverbial “Upper Room” (reference to Pentecost) where all of the Gifts are received; where I receive the strength and power of the Lord (Ephesians 6:10).
As you can see, that means the doorway is “Fear of the Lord.” What is Fear of the Lord? According to Fr. John Hardon, Fear of the Lord …
“… inspires a person with profound respect for the majesty of God. Its corresponding effects are protection from sin through dread of offending the Lord, and a strong confidence in the power of His help. The fear of the Lord is not servile but filial. It is based on the selfless love of God, whom it shrinks from offending. Whereas in servile fear the evil dreaded is punishment; in filial fear it is the fear of doing anything contrary to the will of God. The gift of fear comprises three principal elements: a vivid sense of God’s greatness, a lively sorrow for the least faults committed, and a vigilant care in avoiding occasions of sin. It is expressed in prayer of the Psalmist, ‘My whole being trembles before you, your ruling fills me with fear’” (Ps 119:120).
St. Francis de Sales said, “We must fear God out of love, not love him out of fear.” In other words, Fear of the Lord is a fear of ever offending the One we love so much; the One in which we have totally dedicated and devoted our lives; the One Who fills us with awe and wonder in His presence. Fear of the Lord is the entry point; this is the “trigger” that ignites all of the other Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Without this “trigger,” we are prone to reduce our faith/religion to merely another organization that has a sense of social responsibility (The direction the aggressive progressive Church leaders want it to go). Jesus is then reduced to an historic figure to emulate. Mass is just a social gathering that many may say (without saying), “It had better have good entertainment if you are going to make me endure this for an hour.” Again, all of the supernatural is stripped out and the belief in miracles and the power of supernatural grace is mocked as the ignorance of our ancestors. In speaking of the need for a New Evangelization, Pope Benedict XVI said, “the true problem of our times is the ‘Crisis of God,’ the absence of God, disguised by an empty religiosity.”
St. Paul, in his letter to Timothy, spoke directly to this ..
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people” (2 Timothy 3:1-15).
So, we can see why Satan has been winning. He is in the supernatural realm using supernatural weapons, while we have surrendered ours.
Fr. John Hardon wrote:
“St. Thomas Aquinas believed that man is more than a composite of body and soul, that his is nothing less than elevated to a supernatural order which participates, as far as a creature can, in the very nature of God. Accordingly, a person in the state of grace, or divine friendship, possesses certain enduring powers, the infused virtues and gifts, that raise him to an orbit of existence as far above nature as heaven is above earth, and that give him abilities of thought and operation that are literally born, not of the will of flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
This is what happened to me at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome on February 2, 1998. In that moment, filled with awe and wonder, I surrendered any former prejudices I had about faith and religion. In that moment, I knew in my bones that this power of God; this “state of grace” was everything to me. In that moment, I knew I had, in essence, entered into a higher and deeper place that I never wanted to leave. I knew I had entered the place where all meaning, purpose and happiness is found. A greater happiness and peace I had never known came over me, in that moment.
And, ever since February 2, 1998, I have devoted my entire priesthood to helping souls, in any way I can, to walk through the doorway of Fear of the Lord; the doorway of Awe and Wonder; the doorway to “Strength” and “Peace.”
“Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will. All I have and call my own, You have given all to me. To You, Lord, I return it. Everything is Yours; do with it what You will. Give me only Your love and Your grace, that is enough for me.” -St. Ignatius of Loyola
In Christ’s love,
Fr. Richard Heilman
Best Supernatural Strength Practices
As we continue this “Peace through Strength Challenge,” we want to pledge to adhere to (restore?) the best foundational practices of an authentically strong Catholic. If you obey Christ and His Church 100% (remain loyal), and practice the following (All, not most or some), you will be strong in God’s supernatural grace, and you will live in peace. You’ll notice we are not addressing such things as tithing, volunteering and catechesis. Why? Because all of these will follow as we are filled with supernatural grace. Grace fills us with a hunger for “the more” of knowing and pleasing God.
Make a plan: Ask yourself, “Can I embrace all of these now? Or, do I embrace some, and add others over time?” Either way, you’ll want to make these foundational practices a regular habit in order to be a “strong Catholic.”
Support System: You may want to create or join a “Peace Through Strength Squad” of 3+ people. Maybe create a Facebook group. Also, try to join together with an “Accountability Buddy.”
Commit to these practices from July 16 – October 7.
Sign-up to receive these posts in your email HERE. (Again, Peace Through Strength Challenge posts are every Monday & Thursday between July 16 & August 15)
Doug Barry of Battle Ready will coach us into physical fitness with every “Peace Through Strength Challenge” post:
Source URL: https://www.romancatholicman.com/peace-through-strength-challenge-day-four/
Copyright ©2021 Roman Catholic Man unless otherwise noted.