Saint John of Avila…


…judges Francis’ idea on Judas being a poor, penitent man

  • Judas’ eyes were blinded with the greatness of his sin, and he despaired

Another cunning trick of the devil is the opposite of that described above. Instead of exalting the heart, he humiliates and discourages it to the point of driving it to despair. He recalls past sins, aggravating them as much as possible, so that the person, terrified and falling dismayed under such a heavy burden, is reduced to despair. So the devil acted with Judas. When he was at the point of committing his sin, the devil removed its gravity from his sight; afterward, he brought to his mind the gravity of his crime in having sold his Master at so low a Price and unto such a death. Thus, the devil blinded his eyes with the greatness of his sin and, having caught him in the snare, led him to hell (cf. Mt 27:3-5). (Saint John of Avila. Audi, filia — Listen, O daughter, Ch. 18 – (pg. 79)

…judges Francis’ idea that it is no longer necessary to declare one’s sins to a confessor to be pardoned

  • He who does not go with good dispositions to the Sacrament of Penance does not receive the effect of Christ’s sacred passion

But let no one think that all the punishment is not taken away because of any deficiency in the redemption of the Lord, whose power is present and works in the sacraments. For, as David says, his redemption ‘is plentiful’ (Ps 130:7). Rather, it is through the fault of the penitent, for not bringing to the sacrament the disposition to receive more. For the penitent may bear such sorrow and shame as to rise from the feet of the confessor pardoned of all guilt and punishment, as with the reception of holy baptism, which removes all of this from anyone who is even moderately disposed to receive it. Let everyone know that the oil which our great Elisha (cf. 2Kings 4:1-7), Jesus Christ our Lord, gave us when he gave us his passion, works in his most precious sacraments so that, with it, we may be able to pay all our debts, living here the life of grace and afterward, that of glory. But we, like the other widow in the story of Elisha, must bring the vessels of our good disposition, according to which each one will receive the effect of Christ’s sacred passion, which in itself is completely sufficient and even superabundant. (Saint John of Avila. Audi, Filia – Listen, o daughter, Ch. 18 – (pg. 81))

…judges Francis’ idea on reforming the Church

  • In two-hour long sermons, he converted sinners

His sermons more often than not lasted two hours, and were so fluent and varied that they could hardly have been shorter. He spoke so clearly that all could understand him, and no one ever grew tired of listening to him. Day and night his only thought was how he might increase God’s glory, reform morals, and convert sinners. In preparing his sermons he avoided using many books or elaborate concepts, and his talks were relatively free of scriptural allusions, far-fetched examples, and other such finery. With a simple thought and a single cry, he could set the hearts of his listeners afire. […]While Father Avila was preaching in Granada, another preacher, the most famous of his day, was also engaged in preaching there. People would leave this preacher’s sermons crossing themselves in amazement at the many fine and profitable things that had been so beautifully said. But when they left Master Avila’s sermons they all went out with bowed heads, not saying a word to one another, rapt and repentant from the sheer force of the truth, virtue, and excellence of the preacher. His preaching was directed mainly toward withdrawing sinners from their unhappy state by showing them the ugliness of sin, the wrath of God, the awful punishment that awaits the impenitent, and the reward that awaits the truly contrite and repentant. (Saint John of Avila commented by Saint Anthony Mary Claret. The Autobiography, pg. 44)

…judges Francis’ idea on obtaining spiritual fruits in other religions

  • The evil conscience little by little blinds the understanding so that it seeks a doctrine that does not contradict its wickedness – some deny Christ for having lived according to the bestial law of Mohammed

And it is also fitting for you to examine how you live, and how you take advantage of the faith that you have, so that God does not chastise allowing you to fall into some error through which you lose it, for you have heard with your own ears of how many people have been lost by the heresies of the perverse Martin Luther; and there are others who have denied Christ in the land of the Moors, for having lived according to the bestial law of Mohammed (fleeing from the reform promoted by the great Cardinal Cisneros, many religious went to Africa and denied the faith). In which you will observe fulfilled what Saint Paul said (1Tim 1:19): ‘Some, by rejecting conscience, have made a shipwreck of their faith’; now may it be, as we stated above, when we had spoken of the motives to believe, because the same evil conscience little by little blinds the understanding so that it seeks a doctrine that does not contradict its wickedness; now because the Sovereign Judge, in chastisement of sins, permits a heretic to fall; by one or the other, it is something to fear, to be careful to avoid. (Saint John of Avila. Audi, filia — Listen, o daughter, Ch. 49)

…judges Francis’ idea on proclaiming the Gospel only with gentleness

  • God threatens the sinner; then fulfills the threats, or undoes them if man repents

Sometimes the Lord commands to be said that which He has in his high counsel and eternal will determined; and that will take place, without any doubt. In this way he commanded that it be said to King Saul (1Sam 15:23) that he would cast him out and chose a better one in his place. And also he threatened the priest Eli, and it was so fulfilled (1Sam 3:13). And in the same manner he threatened King David that he would kill the son that he had from his adultery with Bathsheba (2Sam 12:14); and even though the king begged for the life of the child with prayers, fasting and penance, it was not granted, because God had determined that the child would die. But at other times he commands something to be said, not what He has determined to do, but what He would do if such and such a man would not amend. And in this way He commanded to say that the city of Nineveh would be destroyed in forty days (Jon 3:4), and then, due to their penance He revoked this sentence: because He had not determined to destroy them, for He did not; but He commanded that it be said that their sins deserved it, and what would come to them if they did not amend. And even though from the outside it seems like an alteration to say: ‘It will be destroyed’, and then not destroy it; however, in the lofty will of God it is not, for he had never decidedly wanted to destroy it. For, as Saint Augustine says: ‘God changes the sentence; but he does not change the counsel’, which was for it not to be destroyed, through penance, to which he wanted to incite them through the fear of the threat. […] From which we understand, […] that just as one who repents, ends up undoing that which he had done, so He will undo the sentence of chastisement that he had made against man, if he does penance; and He will undo the good that He had promised, if man strays from God. (Saint John of Avila. Audi, filia — Listen, O Daughter, Ch. 83)

…judges Francis’ idea that sin forms a part of religious life

  • Those who enjoy a perfect cleanliness from sin manifest and enhance the glory of God

Have nothing to fear in attributing the highness of spiritual honor, and grandeur of spiritual riches, and perfect cleanliness from sins, to those that the celestial Father justified by the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord. May no one think that they being as such harms the honor of the Lord. For since all that they have comes from Christ, not only do they not diminish His honor by being so worthy, but they even manifest and enhance it; for it is clear that the more just and beautiful they are, the more are manifested to be of great value the merits of Him who obtained so much good for those who of themselves did not possess nor deserved anything. […] The Lord is not like some, who are upset or little pleased with the honor and virtue of their servants, thinking that it diminishes their own; nor like vain women, who avoid being accompanied by beautiful servants in order not to obscure their own beauty. Certainly, Jesus Christ our Lord has charity, and such that which exceeds our knowledge, as Saint Paul said (Eph 3:19), in order to have our good for his own; and for us to possess many goods, he lost his most worthy life on the cross. (Saint John of Avila. Audi, filia — Listen, O Daughter, Ch. 90)

  • Jesus has the power of liberating man not only from condemnation, but even from sin

The confession, like the other similar things that in the divine Scripture exist, of the goods that come to us from Jesus Christ, certainly give more honor to Jesus Christ, than saying that neither the virtue of his blood, nor of his grace, nor the sacraments, nor the infusing of the Holy Spirit in man, nor incorporating him in Himself, are sufficient to take the sin from a man, but only that he not be condemned by Him. What is this other than to think little of God the Father, who, having promised to send with his only Son remedy for sin, and that at its time sin would be ended (Dan 9:24), did not fulfill his promise, for although the Son having come, sin remains in the one who participates in the Son? How can the word: ‘I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all of your uncleanliness’ (Ezek 36:25), be fulfilled, if in truth mine is not cleaned, but rather a clean mantle is merely thrown upon me, telling me that justice and purity of Our Lord Jesus Christ shall be imputed to me? This would be more to cover my filth, than to remove it. And whoever says this, on the same account denies that the Messiah promised in the Law is Jesus Christ Our Lord; and should await another, who delivers not only from the condemnation of sin, but from sin itself. For it is clear that the one who delivers from both things, would be a better savior than he who delivers from only one. (Saint John of Avila. Audi, filia — Listen, O Daughter, Ch. 90)

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