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A Program of Spiritual Formation for Candidates to the Priesthood

The Lay Monastic Community of Caryana









He who has not died to the world cannot die well. What must we do to die to the world? 


To die well, we must live well. And to live well is ". . .charity from a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned."


"What must I do to gain eternal life?" a young man asked Christ. "Keep the commandments." In a few words, St. Paul explained the primary commandment upon which the whole law depends, an understanding and fulfillment of which will lead to eternal life.


The commands of Christ are summarized thus: "So there abides faith, hope and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." The purpose of this charge is charity, i.e., the purpose of all the commandments is charity. In short, for one to have love of God, let him fulfill all the commandments of Christ.


"Love God and love your neighbor." He who loves God works no evil towards God; he who loves his neighbor works no evil towards his neighbor.


Charity from a pure heart, hope from a good conscience and faith unfeigned. Faith must be born first; charity is the perfection of the spiritual life.


Let us begin with faith, not a false feigned faith as of heretics or bad Catholics. Feigned faith is either: a) one does not really believe but pretends he believes; or b)  when he indeed believes but does not live as he believes one should live. "They profess to know God but, by their works, they disown Him."


By this, it is apparent that many do not live well and thus will not die well. How many Catholics profess to know Christ but deny Him in their actions? How many profess Christ is the judge of the living and the dead and yet live as though they were not going to be judged? How many profess Mary is the mother of God but treat her like a whore? How many praise prayer, fasting and good works but live by their vices?


Know if your faith is feigned; if it is, acknowledge that you have not begun to live well. And hope not that you will die happily. To die well, you must master the Art of living well and live it.


Hope, a good conscience, arises from faith. A good conscience adds trust to hope. Hope makes us approach God with confidence because, rid of all sins through Penance, we know we shall receive God's favors. With serious sins, we are God's enemies. And who ever asks favors from an enemy? How can we receive favors when He is angry with us? "The hope of the wicked is as dust, which is blown away with the wind. . .dispersed by the storm. . ." "The sinner's hope is fragile, not solid; short-lived and not long-lived."


To repent at the last hour is a very special grace rarely given. The Book of Wisdom warns us that if we wish to live well and die happily, we should not dare to cling even for a second to our sins. For most are deceived into believing that there is plenty of time for serious repentance. This vain confidence has deceived and will deceive many. 


Charity is the queen of virtues. With charity, no one perishes; without it, no one lives. Charity-- "from a pure heart." A pure heart does not necessarily generate charity.


Charity is poured forth in our hearts by God. God does not pour this into an impure heart. It is poured into a heart purified from error. "God cleansed their hearts by faith", a heart purified from all desire of earthly things. 


An impure heart is like a green wood; the fire of charity has no effect on it because of the sap of earthly love and empty confidence in one's own abilities.


Feigned love is prayer, fasting and good works but with a filthy heart, vainglory and hatred. True charity comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned. This is the true Art of living well and dying happily.  


St. Robert Bellarmine, Chapter 3







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