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Cleanliness Is Next To…..


“Christ cannot use, and God cannot honor a spotted Christian. The world sneers at them, and when men look at them they see a deformed Christian and are repelled.” ~ Lionel B. Fletcher

On the heels of yesterday's traditional celebration of the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord , we find ourselves on this 1st Friday of the Month continuing our journey through John's 1st Letter .

Our Church today also memorializes the great Priest and Patron Saint of Canon Lawyers, Saint Raymond of Penyafort, the man who once famously sailed from the island of Majorca to Barcelona using his cape for a raft in protest of the King of Aragon's refusal to dismiss his mistress. Despite this feat of navigational brilliance, he was unable to unseat Saint Nicholas as the Patron Saint of sailors. I guess no one trumps Santa Claus. But I digress.

“Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” These were the faith-filled words of the leper that Jesus encounters in today’s Gospel (Luke 5:12-16). Of course any one of us could make the same proclamation. Every one of us should. Whereas the leper sought to be cleansed of his hideous affliction, we all need to be made clean, our hearts in need of purification. Saint Augustine, no stranger to dissolute living in his own right, once said “Chastity, or cleanness of heart, holds a glorious and distinguished place among the virtues, because she, alone, enables man to see God; hence Truth itself said, 'Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.'”

Cleanliness of spirit, heart, and soul certainly do not come easy in the world we live in today. In many respects we are like ping pong balls batted around and back and forth by the paddles of the secular world. The life of a devout Catholic man or woman can be arduous at times, lonely too. But In the words of the Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, “Right is right, even if no one is right. And wrong is wrong, even if everyone is wrong.” Purity is the fruit of prayer, temperance, prudence, and self-control.

All week long we’ve been reflecting on John’s first letter, wherein one theme resonates throughout: Those who love God keep his Commandments, the very Commandments he gives to us out of love Jesus wants to clean us up, ridding us of those things that are not of him and therefore cannot be within us. In the words of Saint Peter Julian Eymard, “We must be pure. I do not speak merely of the purity of the senses. We must observe great purity in our will, in our intentions, in all our actions.” When asked for with humility, holy purity is granted to us by God.

I leave you with a question and a challenge posed by the great Saint Josemaria Escriva, who firmly believed that those who resolved to lead a clean life through prayer and the cultivation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit would not view the sublime virtues as chastity and purity as burdensome but instead what he called a “crown of triumph." He said “Many live like angels in the middle of the world. You… why not you?"

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Those whose hearts are pure are temples of the Holy Spirit.” ~ Saint Lucy

Saint Raymond of Penyafort, pray for us.

Saint Raymond of Penyafort, pray for us.

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