Category: Ralph Martin

Avoiding a Lukewarm Path

WID

The following is an excerpt from Ralph Martin’s newly re-released booklet, “What Happens When I Die?”


This may come as something of a surprise, but Scripture indicates that lukewarm Christians have a chance of being damned. I was surprised, even shocked, when I studied what God’s Word said about this. Jesus’ general attitude toward lukewarmness is vividly expressed in the following excerpt from Revelation:

I know your deeds: I know you are neither hot nor cold. How I wish you were one or the other—hot or cold! But because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spew you out of my mouth! (Rv 3:15)

Scripture makes clear that saving faith is not just an intellectual assent to certain truths, or even an emotional “born again” experience, but a commitment of the heart and will to act on and live in accordance with the words that our Savior and Lord speaks to us, in the power of the Holy Spirit. “Be assured, then, that faith without works is as dead as a body without breath” (Jas 2:26).

To profess faith in Christ without the corresponding actions is counted by Jesus as worthy of condemnation:

Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. You can tell a tree by its fruit. None who cry out, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of God but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.When that day comes, many will plead with me, “Lord, Lord” . . . Then I will declare to them solemnly, “I never knew you. Out of my sight, you evildoers!” (Mt 7:19-22, 23)

Not to be fruitful for the Lord, not to use well what He gives us, is to run the risk of condemnation. Material possessions, gifts and abilities, time and resources, insights and faith—an unprofitable use of any of these could result in their being taken away and their owners being declared unfaithful servants. This is what is indicated in the parable of the silver pieces or talents (Mt 25:14-30). The servant who has not made a profit with the master’s money is stripped of the talents he was given and thrown into the outer darkness.

Scripture also points out the dangers of becoming so involved in our ordinary, day-to-day lives that we do not remain alert to God, eager to do Christ’s will, and ready for Christ’s second coming. To be nominal Christians, but not to be clothed in righteous deeds, makes one unfit for the kingdom of God. Being invited into the kingdom is one thing; responding properly is another:
 

When the king came in to meet the guests, however, he caught sight of a man not properly dressed for a wedding feast. “My friend,” he said, “how is it you came in here not properly dressed?” The man had nothing to say. The king then said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot and throw him out into the night to wail and grind his teeth.” The invited are many, the elect are few. (Mt 22:11-14)

We also become liable for judgment if we fail to persevere in faith and obedience until the end of our lives or until the Lord’s return. Short-lived enthusiasm followed by a drifting back into lukewarmness is just as dangerous. Christians who do not persevere, who return to serious sin or end up denying the faith, will be dealt with severely.

If we sin willfully after receiving the truth, there remains for us no further sacrifice for sin—only a fearful expectation of judgment and a flaming fire to consume the adversaries of God. Anyone who rejects the law of Moses is put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Do you not suppose that a much worse punishment is due the man who disdains the Son of God, thinks the covenant-blood by which he was sanctified to be ordinary, and insults the Spirit of grace? We know who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay” and “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Heb 10:26-31)

There is only one way for Christians to meet the criteria required for eternal life: we must allow the Lord to transform us and make us holy—not just in external actions, but in our hearts and minds and wills.


 

The Fruit of Fasting

All of us are praying for people—for healing, for conversion, for a good job, for a good marriage, for financial provision, and many other intentions as well! In my own life, I’ve often noticed an acceleration in answered prayer for specific intentions when I’ve added fasting to my prayer. It is something that the early Christians practiced regularly and something that Mary in some of her apparitions has encouraged us to do. And now Lent becomes an opportunity for us all to join fasting to our prayer.

Not all of us can fast from food because of health conditions (although that is the primary meaning of fasting), but all of us can fast from something significant that really counts as a sacrifice. Is it media? Deserts? Eating between meals? Putting sugar in our coffee or tea? Going to movies?

We all should keep Mark 9:14-29 in mind this Lent (you can find it below.) Some oppressive holds on people and situations only yield to prayer and fasting. And that’s good news. There’s a certain pain to fasting and a fleshly reluctance to do so, but once we do, let’s do it with joy and experience the intensification of our prayer and the joy of being willing to suffer a little for those we love.

The Healing of a Boy with a Spirit

“And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd about them, and scribes arguing with them. And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed, and ran up to him and greeted him. And he asked them,

‘What are you discussing with them?’ 

And one of the crowd answered him,

‘Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a dumb spirit; and wherever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.’ 

And he answered them,

‘O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.’ 

And they brought the boy to him; and when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father,

‘How long has he had this?’

And he said,

‘From childhood. And it has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.’ 

And Jesus said to him,

‘If you can! All things are possible to him who believes.’ 

Immediately the father of the child cried out and said,

‘I believe; help my unbelief!’ 

And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it,

‘You dumb and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again.’ 

And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse; so that most of them said,

‘He is dead.’ 

But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately,

‘Why could we not cast it out?’ 

And he said to them,

‘This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.’”

(Mk 9:14-29)


[Featured Image]

Guide to Personal Prayer

Guide to Personal Prayer

Many spiritual writers, including the saints, offer suggestions concerning methods on prayer. Francis de Sales, very much influenced by his own experience of St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises, offers some suggested structures and formats for the practice of meditation and prayer. He suggests six steps as a guide to moving through a time of prayer.

  1. Place yourself in the presence of God. Remember that God is near, not far away. He is in the very depth of your heart, your spirit. “Begin all your prayers whether mental or vocal in the presence of God. Keep to this rule without and exception and you will quickly see how helpful it will be.”
  2. Ask the Lord to help you pay attention to Him, to open yourself up to His Word and presence.
  3. Pick out a passage from Scripture, a scene from a Gospel, a mystery of the Faith, or a passage from some spiritual reading. If the subject matter you have chosen lends itself to it, picture yourself in the same place as the action or event that is happening. Use your imagination to place yourself in the midst of the scene near Jesus, with the disciples.
  4. Think about what you’ve chosen to meditate on in such a way as to increase your love for the Lord or for virtue. The purpose is not primarily to study or know more, but to increase your love for God and the life of discipleship.
  5. If good affections should rise up-gratitude for God’s mercy, awe at His majesty, sorrow for sin, desire to be more faithful, for example-yield to them.
  6. Come to some practical resolutions concerning changes you would like to make as a response to these affections. For example, resolve to be more faithful in prayer, or more ready to forgive, or more eager to share the faith with others, or more determined to resist sin, in as practical and concrete a way as you can determine.

“Most of all, after you rise from meditation you must remember the resolutions and decisions you have made and carefully put them into effect on that very day. This is the great fruit of meditation and without it meditation is often not only useless but even harmful. Virtues meditated on but not practiced sometimes inflate our minds and courage and we think that we are really such as we have thought and resolved to be.”

Francis recommends that we end the time of meditation-prayer with expressions of gratitude to God for the light and affections He has given us in our time of prayer; then, an offering of ourselves to the Lord in union with the offering of Jesus; and thirdly, a time of intercession for our self and others.At the same time, Francis doesn’t intend that the structure or method he proposes be followed mechanically if the Holy Spirit draws us to something different.

“It may sometimes happen that immediately after the preparation you will feel that your affections are drawn wholly towards God. In this case you must give them free rein and not follow the method I have shown you. Ordinarily, consideration must precede affections and resolutions. However, when the Holy Spirit gives you the affections before the consideration, you must not look for the consideration since it is used only to arouse the affections. In a word, whenever the affections present themselves you must accept them and make room for them whether they come before or after the considerations.”

 While Francis acknowledges the usefulness of praying the Rosary, various litanies, and fixed, written prayers, he advises us to always give the priority to mental prayer and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

“However, if you have the gift of mental prayer, you should always give it first place. Afterwards if you cannot say your vocal prayers because of your many duties or for some other reason don’t be disturbed on that account. . . . During vocal prayer if you find your heart drawn and invited to interior or mental prayer, don’t refuse to take it up. Let your mind turn very gently in that direction and don’t be concerned at not finishing the vocal prayers you intended to say. The mental prayer you substitute for them is more pleasing to God and more profitable for your soul.”

Francis makes an exception in his general advice regarding flexibility in prayer, as does Catherine of Siena: those in Holy Orders or by virtue of a rule of religious life are obligated to pray the Divine Office must keep their commitment.

. . .

FADThe above excerpt was taken from Ralph Martin’s book The Fulfillment of All Desire: A Guidebook for the Journey to God Based on the Wisdom of the Saints. For more great wisdom, pick up a copy today! Buy Now»


Growing in Freedom

True Freedom[photo source]

Everything that exists is a gift from God. Yet oftentimes we look to the things and creatures created by God for a satisfaction and fulfillment that only God Himself can provide. When the soul wraps itself around the things and the people of this world looking for satisfaction or fulfillment that only God can give, it produces a distortion in itself, and in others as well. Many spiritual writers call the process of unwinding this possessive, self-centered, clinging, and disordered seeking of things and persons “detachment.” The goal of the process of detachment is not to stop loving the things and people of this world, but, quite to the contrary, to love them even more truly in God, under the reign of Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Things and people become even more beautiful when we see them in this light. There are almost always painful dimensions in this process of “letting go” in order to love more, but it’s the pain of true healing and liberation. Christian detachment is an important part of the process by which we enter into a realm of great freedom and joy.

The Father communicates to Catherine of Siena some striking insights on why detachment is needed.

“For created things are less than the human person. They were made for you, not you for them, and so they can never satisfy you. Only I can satisfy you. . . . Do you want me to tell you why they suffer? You know that love always brings suffering if what a person has identified with is lost. These souls in one way or another have identified with the earth in their love, and so they have in fact become earth themselves. Some have identified with their wealth, some with their status, some with their children. Some lose me in their slavery to creatures. Some in their indecency make brute beasts of their bodies. . . . They would like to be stable but are not. Indeed they are as passing as the wind, for either they themselves fail through death or my will deprives them of the very things they loved. They suffer unbearable pain in their loss. And the more disordered their love in possessing, the greater is their grief in loss. Had they held these things as lent to them rather than as their own, they could let them go without pain. They suffer because they do not have what they long for. For, as I told you, the world cannot satisfy them, and not being satisfied, they suffer.”

…Catherine of Siena points out that even in this life the greedy, the envious, the revengeful, and the lustful are tortured by their disordered desires. They suffer through their own sinfulness, meriting nothing by it and refusing to heed the message of this suffering: to repent and return to the Father. Christians, in taking up the cross of Christ, can taste something of the joy of heaven in this life; so too, those who choose to follow their sinful desires take up “the devil’s cross, and taste the pledge of hell even in this life. Unless they reform they go through life weakened in all sorts of ways, and in the end receive death. They pass in hate through the gate of the devil and receive eternal damnation. . . . How deluded these souls are, and how painfully they make their way to hell—like martyrs of the devil!”

…The Life of a Christian is to be different than the life of the unbeliever. Like all human beings, Christians need certain things of this world to live, but Jesus calls us to be primarily occupied with living for the kingdom. If we do this, He promises that the things we need for life on this earth will be given as well.

. . .

FADThe above excerpt was taken from Ralph Martin’s book The Fulfillment of All Desire: A Guidebook for the Journey to God Based on the Wisdom of the Saints. For more great wisdom, pick up a copy today! Shop Now»


Gifts With Impact

Need a little inspiration for meaningful gifts to give this Christmas? Check out our staff recommendations—there’s something for almost everyone on your list…

FADThe Fulfillment of All Desire: A Guidebook for the Journey to God Based on the Wisdom of the Saints

Book by Ralph Martin

We are all called to be saints, but most of us don’t have a clear idea of how to make that happen. In this book, Ralph Martin draws on the wisdom of the saints and the Scripture to provide a comprehensible overview of the path to union with God.

 

 


LNFLove Never Fails

 

Book by Debra Herbeck

Compiled by the founder of the Be Love Revolution, this treasury contains the writings of favorite saints and others. Enrich your soul or that of someone you love with these meditations on love: God’s love for us, our love for Him, and our love for each other. This is the message teenage girls and women of all ages need to hear!

 


HSNHeaven Starts Now: Becoming A Saint Day by Day

 

Book by Fr. John Riccardo

Fr. John Riccardo’s first book does not disappoint! It contains practical, Scriptural wisdom on key areas of life that can immediately be put into action and bear fruit. Each chapter includes questions for reflection and discussion, which also makes it a great choice for group study!

 

 

 

 


More of the Holy Spirit

Book by Sr. Ann Shields

This is a handbook of essentials in how to live the Christian life with power, love, and hope. Sr. Ann offers an inspirational message that will help us persist in prayer, re-dedicate ourselves as disciples of Christ, and ignite the fire that once burned within us.

 

 

 


WSCPWhen the Spirit Comes in Power

Book by Peter Herbeck

Peter uses inspiring testimonies and sound teaching in his book to describe the work of the Holy Spirit in the personal lives of Christians and in the Church throughout the world. Readers will learn how to grow in likeness to Christ, experience spiritual freedom and work with the Lord for the expansion of his kingdom on earth.

 

 

 


PWHPeace Will Have the Last Word

Book by Sr. Emmanuel Maillard

This book is engaging from the first sentence. It is full of stories that grab the reader’s heart and fill it with the certainty that—no matter what our circumstances—God is here, and He loves us.

 

 

 

 


RPDVRenewing Today’s Parish

DVD by Renewal Ministries

Great gift for your Parish Priest! This DVD contains five episodes of The Choices We Face full of insightful discussions with priests and people active in parish leadership about the ways in which they were able to revitalize the faith of their parishes. Guests include Fr. John Riccardo, Fr. James Mallon, and Msgr. Charles Pope.

 

 


More great gift ideas from Renewal Ministries»