God’s Living Temple – Part 2 of 3

Father Cassilly elaborates further on the distinction between God’s temple on Mount Zion and human souls, which are His living temples. He writes: “The temple was a holy place, for it was dedicated to the service of God. It belonged to Him, and was sanctified by His presence. On the dedication day of Solomon’s temple the priests could not enter it, ‘because the majesty of the Lord had filled it.’ ‘I have sanctified this house, which thou hast built, to put My name there forever, and My eyes and heart shall be there always’ (1 Kgs 9:3), was God’s own promise to Solomon. . . . We recall how Christ, indignant with the money-changers and traffickers in the temple, drove them out with knotted cords, and upset their tables, because they had changed the temple from a house of prayer to a den of thieves.”

“Not less holy is the Christian soul in which God dwells, or rather more sacred is the soul, for, while temples have only extrinsic holiness in so far as they are reserved for the service of God, the soul is intrinsically, formally holy, possessing moral goodness, participating in the Divine nature, beautified and sanctified by living grace of which no material building is capable.”

“St. Paul argues that as our members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, it must follow that we belong no longer to ourselves but to Him. He who buys anything becomes its owner. Now we have been bought, purchased at a great price, the blood of Christ, and so we are His property. God has sanctified us and made us his dwelling, and woe to him who violates this sanctuary and retreat, who desecrates his own soul, for such a one is guilty of rapine, he robs the Deity of His home.”

“A temple is essentially but an enclosed altar. . . . The living temple of God in the soul also has its altar of sacrifice. . . . Our own will must be offered as a sweet-smelling holocaust. How dear to the natural man it is to follow his own vagaries, to idle or labor, do or undo, choose or leave, as whim or fancy moves, without sense of responsibility or care. But the supernatural man must restrain will and fancy, make them an oblation upon the altar of self-conquest. To subdue, regulate and conquer natural inclination, and make our own will entirely subservient to God’s, is pretty much the whole of the spiritual life.”

Quotations from Francis Cassilly, A Story of Love, 2d ed. (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1917).

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God’s Living Temple – Part 1 of 3

Father Cassilly distinguishes two kinds of temples: those made of stone and those that are alive. He writes: “God’s dwelling place is called a temple. Since the just soul, as we have seen, is God’s abode, it can very properly be styled His temple. And this is the very appellation given it by St. Paul, who tells the Corinthians: ‘You are the temple of the living God; as God saith: I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people’ (2 Cor 6:16). In another epistle he speaks thus: ‘Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?’ (1 Cor 3:16)”

“In the days of good King David God complained to him that He had no permanent dwelling place, but that, from the day He brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, He had been forced to dwell in a tabernacle or a tent. (2 Sm 7:6-7) David then began to prepare for the building of the temple, which was undertaken and finished by King Solomon. Solomon built it on a most magnificent scale, as can be seen from the fact that he had seventy thousand men to carry burdens, eighty thousand to hew stones in the mountains, and three thousand six hundred to oversee them. And he gathered workers in gold and silver, in brass and iron, marble and wood, and in purple and scarlet and blue.”

“And after the destruction of the first temple the Lord complained by the mouth of the prophet, Aggeus, that the people dwelt in ceiled houses while His own house lay desolate. This reproach moved the chosen people to begin the construction of the second temple which, however, seemed so inferior in comparison with the grandeur of the first that old men, who had seen both, wept on beholding its foundations. To encourage the builders, the prophet foretold: ‘Great shall be the glory of this house more than of the first,’ for into it would come ‘the Desired of all nations,’ meaning by this Jesus Christ.”

Quotations from Francis Cassilly, A Story of Love, 2d ed. (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1917).

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Enemies of the Body

Father Cassilly compares earthly dwellings to the souls of the just, wherein God dwells: “An earthly habitation has many enemies—amongst them poverty, sickness and death. . . . A shadow is always impending over it. The most perfect of homes cannot endure. It is but temporal, and so meant to be. At times want and distress descend upon it.”

“And what home escapes sickness? It is a legacy of original sin and is always seeking to enter through the chinks of doorway or casement, and, in the event, it always succeeds in ensconcing itself by bedside or hearth. Yet, evil as it is, it serves to draw closer the heartstrings of the family. The memory of past tribulation is often a sweeter possession than that of a placid and even prosperity. The helplessness of the sufferer not only wins the compassion and sympathy of the strong, but it draws forth the spirit of self-sacrifice. When the invalid sees with the eyes of others, is served by their hands and nursed by their affection, the bonds of family intercourse become riveted as by steel; and thus one great purpose intended by the Creator in the institution of the family is attained, forgetfulness of self.”

“And finally death, the enemy of mankind, ruthlessly enters the happiest of homes and carries away its victims one by one; the sound of cheerful voices is succeeded by silence or the mocking echoes of noises from without, and nothing remains to tell of once happy lives save desolate rooms, and blackened embers on the hearth.”

“But in the human habitation chosen by God, there need be no fear of these enemies of domestic felicity. . . . Sorrow, though, and crosses, tribulations and afflictions will ever be with us; but, if we welcome them with outstretched hands as friends of ours and God’s, they will not harm but only purify and strengthen us.”

“God, then, has made choice of our soul for His home, there to stay, if we but permit Him, in calm and storm amidst all the vicissitudes of our mundane existence until our tenement of clay falls apart, when, clinging all the closer to our emancipated spirit, He will enlarge it with the fulness of His Being forever.”

Quotations from Francis Cassilly, A Story of Love, 2d ed. (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1917).

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A Contented Guest

Father Cassilly continues his discussion of the indwelling of God in the human soul. He asks: “What makes God a contented lodger within our soul?” It is this: “His ability to control and manage everything in it—the lights and shades and sounds, the domestic economy, order and arrangement. Everything there should be to His taste and liking—our thoughts, desires, wishes, aims and ambitions, the conversation and entertainment we provide Him. Above all, there must be a constant intercommunication of the offices of affection between Him and us. When love flies out of doors the home ceases to exist. To love and to be loved—this is the essence of home. God will stay so long as our heart beats in unison with His, but, when we grow aweary of Him and become enamored of sinful objects, He will depart, leaving us to entertain the foe and the stranger.”

“Like other householders, God stores His treasures and prized possessions in His home under bolt and key. And what are these treasures He guards so jealously? They are grace and the habitual virtues that belong to it. All the day long God is busy in our soul, bringing in new ornaments of affection, beautifying, decorating His habitation to make it alike worthy of Him and us. This is His constant occupation and toil, which never weary or fatigue Him. We sleep, but He ever watches, lest while He slept the marauder might come and despoil His abode. He would allow no unbidden guest to cross the threshold where He is sovereign keeper and warden.”

“In his home the man of affairs throws off the solicitude and restraint of business cares. He draws the curtains on the outside world and forgets its existence, abandoning himself to the delights of the family circle. They become for the moment more important to him than the welfare of a nation. Home is all to him, the real occupation of life, and other things are but seeming. And to God the interests of His home are all in all. . . . No concern of ours is beneath Him. We need not fear to annoy or worry Him by our importunities, for whatever pertains to us and our welfare is worthy of His notice and sympathy, simply because it relates to us.”

Quotations from Francis Cassilly, A Story of Love, 2d ed. (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1917).

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God Within Us

Father Cassilly writes: “To live or abide in a place means much more than a casual or temporary stay. The traveler, who is in need of shelter or refreshment, puts up in an inn or hotel, or camps by stream or wayside. But only a permanent place of abode is called a home. . . . Man, having a body, must have a habitat for it, a domicile where he may find repose when weary, and store what is necessary for his manifold needs. . . . In the home are ease and respite from toil, and all arrangements for comfort and convenience. Here the owner is master. At least one spot on earth is his where he can come and go at will. . . . Humble indeed and lowly this home may be, only a cabin on the moor, a hut in the wilderness, but at least it is sacred, safe from prying intrusion.”

“God, then, coming to dwell in the soul makes it His home. Men who can choose their abode pick out a location favored by nature’s charms, where the wind blows free, under sunlit heavens, and nigh to forest, field and stream. Like a diamond in its setting, they place their retreat where weald and wold bloom fairest. Does God act differently? Has He less care of His home than man? Would He dwell in an unkept hovel open to wind and weather, where dust and grime contest His sway? No, the home of the Deity in which He would take pleasure, should be swept and garnished, pure and undefiled; hence He cannot dwell in the sinful soul, which must be purged, before His entrance, of grievous sin.”

“But the most stately of manors, enclosed by park and hedge, is not always a home; nor even the cheeriest of bungalows, half-hid by climbing roses, and girt by velvet lawn and gay borders of flowers. These may be but a prison house to the fettered spirits of the unwilling tenants. . . . Within our soul God dwells gladly. He is not imprisoned there against His will, and so it is His home where He loves to be. There He is unconstrained and free, perfectly at ease. He is master and owner in the house He has built without hands. No one there disputes His right to be and possess, to dispose and arrange at pleasure.”

Quotations from Francis Cassilly, A Story of Love, 2d ed. (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1917).

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The Doctrine of Appropriation

Father Cassilly discusses the doctrine of appropriation, which helps the human mind begin to understand the nature and activity of God.

He notes: “Reflective minds may be moved to ask the question, why, then, the indwelling in the just soul and its sanctification, which are equally of the Three Divine Persons, are attributed so prominently to the Third Person, as though they were His peculiar office. A sufficient answer to this difficulty will be to recall the doctrine of the schools, that, in our mind, certain manifestations of the Godhead in creatures are closely allied with the incommunicable personality of one or other of the Divine Persons. Hence, by what is called ‘appropriation,’ we appropriate or ascribe to one Person what actually belongs to the Three.”

“Thus, to the Father the work of creation and whatever involves a striking display of power are often imputed, since with the notion of unbegotten and unproduced, the idea of power and omnipotence is closely connected. To the Son, who is the Eternal Word begotten by knowledge, works of knowledge and wisdom such as the order of the universe are referred. To the Holy Ghost, Who is the Substantial Love of Father and Son, we attribute special manifestations of love and goodness. From this we can understand how the sanctification of the soul, though pertaining alike to the Three Divine Persons, comes to be appropriated to the Holy Spirit, for it is preeminently a work of love and goodness.”

“The Father, Son and Holy Ghost, then, come with power, wisdom and love to sanctify us, to take up Their abode within us as friend to friend, and give us some accidental share and participation, as much as we have capacity for, in Their Substantial Love and Sanctity. This is the mission of the Holy Ghost to the just soul.”

Quotations from Francis Cassilly, A Story of Love, 2d ed. (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1917).

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Union With God in Heaven

Father Cassilly writes: “In the consummation of our union with God in heaven, time and space will seem to vanish for us, a moment of this sublimation into companionship with the Deity will lengthen into a century, and a century appear but as a moment. ‘One day in Thy courts is above thousands’ (Ps 83:11). God forever in me and I in Him. This will be our rapturous state in glory; and it has begun already, albeit in an imperfect manner.”

“It is true that the Persons of the Trinity cannot be separated, that by a mutual indwelling, which theologians call ‘circumincession,’ where one is, the others must be. Thus in the Incarnation, though only the Word became flesh, yet the Father and the Spirit were never absent from the Son of man. In this sense Father and Son certainly accompany the Holy Ghost in His mission of sanctification.”

“But, further, it is an axiom in theology that all actions of God in creatures are common to the Three Persons. For, actions proceed from the nature of a being, and the Divine Nature is identical in the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. Hence all relations between God and creatures, save that arising from the hypostatic union in Christ, which is terminated in the Person of the Word, are common to all the Persons of the Trinity.”

“The union of God and the soul is not hypostatic, as is that of the Incarnate Word where two natures subsist in one Person. It is but an accidental union, the Holy Spirit and the soul each remaining distinct and retaining its personality. According to this teaching the sanctification of the soul proceeds equally from the Three Divine Persons; and the indwelling of the Deity is alike of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. And this is borne out by the words of Christ: ‘If anyone love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him’ (Jn 14:23). Here it is promised that the Father and the Son will dwell in the just soul, just as in the passages quoted before this, inhabitation is attributed to the Third Person.”

“This interpretation is contained in the writings of the Fathers. To quote St. Ambrose: ‘As we are the temple of the Father and the Son so also are we of the Holy Spirit, not many temples but one temple, because a temple is of one Power.’ And St. Augustine tells us explicitly: ‘There is poured forth in our hearts the charity of God, by which the whole Trinity inhabits us.'”

Quotations from Francis Cassilly, A Story of Love, 2d ed. (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1917).

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