Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Healing Balm for the Soul

An Allegory of Man
 From my archives:

What is the cure for the soul that is weary? What is the antidote to a world stricken with vice? The remedy for the soul overwhelmed by despair?

What "sweetens" the crosses we bear?

The answer is one and the same for all of the questions above.

Virtues. Those God given helps for the soul. The beautiful "coat of many colors" the soul needs to be cloaked in. The armor that God yearns to cover its nakedness, its poverty, with so it doesn't walk about the world completely exposed to that which seeks to harm it.

In the painting above, "An Allegory of Man", Man is being attacked by the Seven deadly Sins and Death, but is shielded by the Seven Virtues. We have really given wide berth to studying and practicing the virtues in the past century and this loss is becoming more noticeable each day as the proliferation of every kind of sin and vice sweeps across humanity. Sometimes it's hard to believe that we can be so obdurate in our unwillingness to see what is as plain as the nose on our face:

The world is drowning in the Seven Deadly Sins. We all struggle with them but millions have given themselves over to them completely.

The loss of the practice of virtue in this world has had tragic repercussions. One of the marks of the deadly sins is that they do in fact have a deadening effect on the soul. The soul grows numb and weary. It cannot function properly in the manner that it was created to - as a clean and holy temple of the Holy Spirit. It loses its sense of being closely connected to God. The soul falls asleep, you could say.

We are a people who are snoring their way into oblivion. An oblivion where no one exists except me, myself, and I. The ultimate dreamworld where the only god that exists is the god of self. A world where people have forgotten both God and neighbor. (Oh, wait, so sorry...I forgot that this "dreamworld" actually has a name. Hell, I think it's called. )

The virtues on the other hand "wake up" the soul. They have a vivifying effect on it because their source is God. When the soul is not coated in virtues it feels their absence because the spiritual state of man depends on the virtues. We have lost our understanding of the protection virtues give us, a truth which the people of past centuries understood well.

When our physical bodies are ill they manifest clear symptoms so that we know something is wrong. It's the same for our souls - they too manifest spiritual symptoms so that we may take note and apply the remedies needed to cure its ills.

And God has given us so many remedies.

 One of the greatest is Confession, which purges the soul of the poisons within it. Once the poison is cleared, the virtues have the necessary room to take root, flourish and grow. Not confessing our sins is like trying to plant a seed in rocky soil, the plant has no room to grow because the soil (of the soul) is so poor. Confession removes the rocks and preps the soil.

Prayer is the conduit through which the soil is watered.

Holy Scripture and the Eucharist feed it. (Anyone who likes gardening knows soil needs to be fertilized to produce anything worthwhile.)

The virtues protect it and cause the soil of the soul to produce fruit abundantly.

Let's turn the tide of sin and despair in our world today by praying for and practicing the virtues.

Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society.
                                    St Francis of Assisi


  1. Thought provoking once again. Thanks be to God!

    1. Thanks, Nancy - I guess my focus has been on vices and virtues lately. This post seemed to fit in well.

  2. Modern society has forgotten or missed the very concept of sin. Stop 100 people in the street and ask them: What is sin?

    They may have a vague understanding of right and wrong; but even that has been blurred in the edges. Many people do wrong and don't actually consider it to be wrong. In fact it is seen as being clever, cunning and shrewd to lie, cheat or be dishonest to get ahead and reach the top; whatever that is.

    True piousness and virtue are hard to find these days. Not fashionable enough I'm afraid.

    God bless.

  3. It's a mad, mad world out there, Victor. I never would have believed such a thing could have happened if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. Evil has become good and good has become evil. And many people can't even see it because the Seven Deadly Sins thieve a person's ability to reason soundly. What a conundrum - you can write about sin and its cause and effects but those who are firmly in the grip of the deadly sins can no longer recognize sin at all. We all sin, of course, but when the cast of the heart is firmly set against God it can no longer see what it once clearly understood to be sin.

  4. Mary future Doctor of the Church! Great post!

    1. Very funny, Mallory! I can see St. Gregory rolling his eyes at you again...

  5. Mary, this was a post anchored in the mantle of Hope. With your kind permission, whenever I see an opening on other blogs, I would like to post a link to this great piece, and to the previous one as well. Everyone needs those two - Discernment of the cancer of their soul and the Remedy.

    God bless you, Mary.

  6. Hi Caitlynne,
    Oh yes, of course you can share it. Thanks!