A Rose from St. Therese

[Last week’s post was destroyed by the re-format monster. This is the second attempt.]

Exactly two months ago, I arrived at the monastery, thus marking the beginning of my Benedictine postulancy. I won’t say too much about my experience; but I would like to briefly share one experience with you.

Adopted by St. Therese and Her Family

Fr. Paul of Moll once remarked that life is full of crosses, and that the easiest path – and the most fruitful – is to do everything for the love of God. The Cross, writes Bl. Dom Columba Marmion, is the root of all fecundity.

Before entering the monastery, I was well aware that I was going to encounter the Cross. I think it was Marcelline Pauper who had a vision of numerous crosses of shapes and sizes, which represented the trials and tribulations that were ahead of her. I think we can all relate to this.

For me, the biggest cross that I have faced in the last 2 months is homesickness. All I will say is this: I wept like a baby in an onion factory. Twice. Or was it thrice? I actually don’t remember; I was a mess. Jetlag doesn’t help either – especially when combined with fatigue, sorrow for one’s sins, and a longing for Heaven that cannot be satisfied in this valley of tears.

Amidst all this, I felt inspired to send up a prayer to St. Therese and her family. (I have been reading the Letters of St. Therese in my spare time, and I must confess my love for St. Therese and her family; they are so pure in their faith, so affectionate, so simple, and so loving).

As I was lying on my bed one day, homesick (though to a much lesser extent than previously!), and reading the Letters of St. Therese, I felt inspired to offer one year of Masses in honour of St. Therese, her recently canonized parents, and her entire family. Immediately after making this intention and offering it to God and these holy souls, I felt inspired to  ask St. Therese and her siblings to adopt me as their little brother. I also asked St. Louis and St. Zelie to adopt me as their son. Then I forgot about it.

‘Longing to Belong’

The following day, I was in the scriptorium/library, which is home to some 3000 books (a rough estimate). I didn’t have much time for reading, so I picked up a random book that caught my eye, and started flicking hastily through the pages. A certain picture stood out. It was a beautiful photo of St. Therese and her family (actually it was a collection of photos that were framed under the heading, ‘Le Martin Familie’ or something French like that). I thought nothing of it at the time.

It was only later than night that I recalled my prayer the previous day. Then I considered the likelihood of stumbling upon a picture of the Martin family… in a book about a Benedictine monk.

“They have adopted me!” I thought. Now, you might think I jumped the gun a bit; but I experienced an overwhelming sense of joy at what seemed to be an answer to prayer.

Then the thought occurred to me: “Why is there a picture of the Martin family in a book about a Benedictine monk? … I wonder if he asked the Martin sisters to adopt him?” I don’t know why, but I half-expected the this. I wanted to check the book to find the answer, but I had to wait another day.

Thursday came, and I entered the scriptorium, full of anticipation and curiosity. I picked up the book (‘Longing to Belong: The Life of Dom Mayeul De Caigny’), and this is what I read:

“It is interesting to note that Sr. Marie du Sacre Coeur [Marie Martin, sister of St. Therese] always addresses Dom Mayeul [born March 29 – the day I arrived at the monastery] as her “brother.” At some early date, Dom Mayeul had asked the Martin sisters if they would accept him as their ‘adopted brother.’ The Martin family consisted of five girls, but no boys. They seemed very happy to welcome Dom Mayeul into the family circle as a surrogate ‘brother.’ (p. 348)

Long story, short: I was thrilled!

[I also discovered, one week later, that the day I made that prayer was May 17, the 91st anniversary of the canonization of St. Therese. How this little one looks after me! I expect the same from my new little family, too!]

That is all I have time for today!

+ Pax +

Infinite Wealth? At What Cost?

“The poorer one is [in spirit], the more the indescribable riches of Christ will find their place in us. When we acknowledge and admit our misery, His generosity is very great.”

– Bl. Dom Columba Marmion (Union with God, Thibaut 1938, p. 156)

In Richard kelly’s movie, ‘The Box‘ (2009), a curious-looking man comes knocking on the door of a middle-class family. He is holding a box with a button inside. The couple let the man in to their house, and he explains to them that, if they are willing to press the button, they will receive one million dollars. The catch? Someone, somewhere, will die. (That is the gist; I won’t explain the whole plot).

The movie raises some very interesting philosophical questions. But even more intriguing, in my mind, are the spiritual implications that come to the fore when confronted with the question: ‘Can evil be committed in order to bring about good?’ Or put differently: ‘Does the end justify the means (if the means is evil)?’

So, how does this question relate to the spiritual life? Consider this real-life example: A man is tempted to evade paying taxes; he owes the government a few thousand dollars, but if he “pockets” some of his cash, and doesn’t inform the government, he will save a few quid/bob/bucks/Benjamins/whatever!

What does the man do? Suppose he takes the money; this would be an illegal and immoral act (the two are not necessarily the same!). Materially, he is guilty of mortal sin. If he acted with sufficient knowledge and consent, he is guilty of formal mortal sin (because the matter is grave).

Is this not the height of insanity? Whereas in ‘The Box,’ the couple are offered one million dollars for the life of another [an unspeakable evil, no doubt], in the aforementioned example, the man is “offered” a few thousand dollars for the “price” of his own soul! Recall that every mortal sin makes us a slave to the Devil, and until we give up our sin, we are heading towards eternal damnation.

That is a sobering thought, but it is must be known. If we are tempted to sin mortally, remember that the Devil can promise us nothing of true or lasting worth; he is all smoke and mirrors – pun intended. Pun regretted.

A Positive Look at Spiritual Riches

On a more positive note, we should consider that, for every little act of love, there is an eternal reward (if we are in a state of sanctifying grace, the seed of supernatural fruits).

“What are all the sorrows of earth, said a deceased Visitandine in a vision to Sr. Marie-Catherine Putigny, “compared with the happiness of seeing God for even one instant!”

Going back to ‘The Box,’ imagine the the same basic plot, but instead of being offered money, you were offered eternal joy (which often spills into earth); and instead of coming at the cost of another person’s life, the gift came by sincerely asking for it. Who would say no?

Has Our Lord not put Himself at our disposal? Is He not the Source of all riches? “What more do you want? Am I not with you?” (Jesus to Mother Anne Margaret Clement)

People spend the greater part of their lives in pursuit of frivolous pleasures, when, all the while, Our Lord offers His grace to us at every moment. Whether we be poor or rich, sinful or virtuous, He offers us His friendship, His peace, His joy, and ultimately, Himself.

‘Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth: where the rust, and moth consume, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven: where neither the rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through, nor steal.’ (Mt. 6:19-20)

Our Treasure is in the Sacred Heart

“Learn for thine own benefit, and teach it to others, that to obtain solid virtue it must be soughtin the Heart of Jesus- Whoever wishes to be saved has only to take refuge in this Blessed Ark whence he can look out upon the tempest without being shaken by its fury. O beloved spouse, discover to all the place of refuge thou hast chosen for thy perpetual Abode; do Me this charity to teach it to other souls that they may come and find Me. I have immense treasures of grace for all: and whoever comes to Me shall be overwhelmed with them.” – Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata (March 12, 1905)

“I am an infinite treasure which My Father has placed at the disposal of all. They who reject Me will comprehend their misfortune only in Eternity. I love men; I love them tenderly as My dear brethren; although there is an infinite distance between them and Me, I make no account of it.” – Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata

Dear Jesus, hide me in you Sacred Heart, which was pierced for love of me! Never let me exit therefrom!

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!

 

 

 

Humility Feeds Love…

One day, someone told St. Francis de Sales that they desired to become humble so that they could grow in love. The Saint replied that he preferred to aim at love in order to become humble. Who is correct? Why does this matter?

The answer to the first question, I believe, can be found in the writings of Ven. Louise Margaret, a daughter of St. Francis de Sales (i.e. a Visitandine). Our Lord told her that love and humility grow together; they mutually nourish one another (so, in a sense, both St. Francis de Sales and his interlocutor were correct). Consequently, there can be no true charity without humility, and no true humility without charity. “The more you love Me,” said Our Lord to Madeline Vigneron, “the humbler you are.”

One can verify this doctrine with ease; simply consider that God is Charity and Truth. This, then, is the litmus test of holiness or union with God: charity and humility. A soul might appear charitable and virtuous in the eyes of the world; but if they lack humility, their works are to that extent lacking in supernatural value. It is quite possible to donate generously to charity, serve the homeless, pray for souls, go to Mass, and read spiritual books, when, all the while, one is spiritually dead in mortal sin. Purity of intention is necessary. We will avoid delusion (to a great extent) if we offer our prayers, words and deeds to God, asking that He will act in and through us. He cannot fail to hear and answer such a prayer.

A good sign that we are progressing in the spiritual life is that we often think of God with pleasure. But even more indicative of a great love for God, is a docile will that – feelings aside – says with Our Lady: “Be it done unto me according to Thy word.”

We should always end our prayer with these words: “Thy Will be done.” I purposely capitalised the word “Will,” because God’s Will is not distinct from Himself, and therefore deserves to be adored (bearing in mind that God is the First Cause of all good, and merely permits evil).

Humiliations Help to Uproot Self-Love

It is very easy for self-love to creep into our actions. We think that we are serving God, but the moment something doesn’t go according to plan, we get irritated, or we throw in the towel. Really, we should accept failure as we would success, and suffering as we would joy; both are fruitful, so long as our will is directed towards God, Who works all things to our good.

If we are humble, we won’t be so surprised at our falls, nor will be so inclined to judge others, or to distrust, or to any other evil, all of which stem from the same root: pride.

Because God loves us so much, and wants to lavish His graces on us, He often sends or permits humiliations of various sorts. Remember that sharp word someone addressed to you? God wanted it to be a means of sanctifying you. Remember that time you fell into impatience, despite your best efforts? God wanted you to humble yourself and rely more on Him. Remember that time you couldn’t focus during prayer? God wanted to let you know what you are without Him, and to reward your perseverance and patience.

‘Son, when thou comest to the service of God, stand in justice and in fear, and prepare thy soul for temptation. [2] Humble thy heart, and endure: incline thy ear, and receive the words of understanding: and make not haste in the time of clouds. [3] Wait on God with patience: join thyself to God, and endure, that thy life may be increased in the latter end. [4] Take all that shall be brought upon thee: and in thy sorrow endure, and in thy humiliation keep patience. [5] For gold and silver are tried in the fire, but acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation.’
– Eccles. 2:1-5

In all difficulties, we must remember that God wants us to be humble. Without humility, there is no union with God, no peace, no happiness, no salvation. By bearing humiliations we give God a precious gift; by acknowledging our misery, rather than rebelling against it, we draw God to us. He seeks only to give.

“My child, the more humble you are, the more love will increase in you.”
– Jesus to St. Veronica Giuliani (August 23, 1715)

“Nothing is more pleasing to Me than to find a soul seeking the humility and meekness of My Heart.
– Jesus to Mother Marie-Dominique Claire Moes (1832-1895)

+PAX+

 

 

Offer Your Indulgences for the Poor Souls in Purgatory!

The Poor Souls in Purgatory suffer intensely, and they desperately need our help! One could quote many a Saint, Doctor of the Church, private revelation, and so on, confirming this fact; but the following consideration will suffice:

St. Teresa of Avila, while yet a pilgrim on earth, was overcome with such an intense longing for God that this constituted for her a veritable torture. Our Lord told her that this thirst for Himself – a manifestation of His intimate union with a soul – would be her Purgatory on earth, comparing her suffering and purification to gold in the furnace! (Perhaps you have read about the very “Purgatorial” sufferings of St. Catherine of Genoa?)

While it is true that Purgatory has varying types and degrees of punishments, the truth remains that there are many souls there who are literally burning with desire to see God face to Face, but who can do nothing to ease their pain. This is up to us. It is such an easy way to practice a very high form of charity! Also, the dividends are enormous… but that is secondary.

If Bl. John Massias released 1.2 million souls from Purgatory, we can at least hope to release a few souls! If St. John Vianney said that an aspiration (i.e. a short prayer, such as “My Jesus, mercy!”) often *saved* a soul, surely our prayers for the poor souls will not be in vain.

As you may know, the Church possesses the Keys to an Infinite Treasury of graces. Consider the Sacred Heart; consider the nature of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. “I am the Door,” said Jesus; yes, and He gave St. Peter (and, by extension, the Church) the Keys.

Indulgences, put simply, are the application of Christ’s merits to a soul; they are a means of repairing the damage done by sin; they remit some or all of the temporal punishment that one is owing to God. Indulgences can be partial or plenary. It is definitely worth doing some more reading on the subject if you are not too familiar with it.

Since praying more seriously for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, my life has changed for the better. If you want to please Christ; if you want to console His aching members; if you want to amass a treasury of merits for Heaven; if you want many holy souls (and Heavenly friends) praying for you, then say many indulgenced prayers, and offer them all to Our Lady. As the Queen of Purgatory, she will distribute our indulgences in the best way possible.

“Father Faber, in his beautiful book “All for Jesus,” enumerates six advantages which accrue to us, from our giving over our Indulgences to the
holy souls in Purgatory.

1. First, it considerably increases our merit, and consequently our claim to glory.
2. Next, it lays the soul that we release under a particular obligation to us, both because of the singular benefit it receives from entering all the sooner into glory, and also because of the tremendous sufferings from which it is delivered.
3. Moreover, it gives us the consolation to think that those, whom we have released from Purgatory, are doing for us in heaven the great work of loving, praising, and glorifying God on our behalf.
4. Again, it adds fresh joy to the Church triumphant, from the fact that to the heavenly hierarchy a new citizen is added who can sin no more, whilst to the Church militant it brings comfort from the gain she has made of a new advocate.
5. Besides, it secures a prompt application of our Indulgences, which, in the possible case that we were in no want of them for ourselves, might remain for many years buried in the treasury of the Church.
6. And last of all, it entitles us to a speedy discharge of our own debt in Purgatory; for, if temporal alms are satisfactory above most other good works, much more will spiritual alms be so. And if he who gives up anything for God receives a hundredfold, we may have a security that, to recompense us for our generosity, He will so deal with us, that we shall need little Purgatory, or He will inspire devout souls to
pray for us.”
(Taken from ‘Indulgences: Their Origin, Nature and Development’ by Alexius M. Lepicier)

“To become a saint it is sufficient to gain all the indulgences possible.”
– St. Alphonsus

The Fruit of Good Intentions: A Vision Given to St. Mechtilde

‘A lady once consecrated her child to God, even before it was born, and desired that, if it proved to be a girl, she should be promised to God (in religion); but the child died at the age of two. Her soul appeared to St. Mechtilde as a most beautiful virgin, and said to her:

“All the gifts that I would have received from the Lord, if I had really taken the religious habit, have been given to me now by Him by an act of His great munificence, and I have in addition a special reward for having been consecrated to God from my mother’s womb.”

As this greatly surprised Mechtilde, the Lord said to her:

“Why be astonished? Are not baptised children saved through the faith of others? I accepted the very definite will of the mother for the deed, and in her child I reward all the good things she had desired for her.”
“But why, O Beloved,” asked the saint, “did You take that child so soon?”
“She was so attractive,” replied the Lord, “that it was inexpedient for her to remain on earth. Her father would, later on, when her elder sister died, have broken her mother’s vow, and would have kept her for the world.”
– ‘Divine Communications,’ Vol. I, p. 56 (Rev. Auguste Saudreau)

St. Mechtilde, along with St. Gertrude, may well be called the Saint of desires. It was the near-constant practice of these two mystics to unite their prayers, their desires, their intentions, their works – in a word, everything that they did – to something greater than themselves; to something far greater than their own “little” hearts could offer. And God Himself took great delight in this; He encouraged it, and He often explicitly made known that He took the intention or desire for the act! What generosity! It is as if a peasant wished to honour his king, but, having nothing of his own to give, told the king that, if he were rich, he would make over his riches to the king.

To give one example: St. Mechtilde would unite her intentions before receiving the Adorable Eucharist, to all the loving intentions with which Our Lord has ever been received; for example, by Our Lady and the Saints. Likewise, we may unite our praise of Mary to the praise given her by the Archangel Gabriel, St. Elizabeth, and the Blessed in Heaven. There is great joy in “inventing” such ways to perfect our prayers, to honour God, and to grow in confidence.

God’s generosity is immeasurable; we should particularly take advantage of God’s goodness – so to speak – at Holy Mass. Fr. Garrigou Lagrange, O.P., reminds us that the bounty of God is infinite; we may ask of Him 5 things or 500 things. Be bold in your prayers; it is better to ask too much than too little. Don’t be too calculating; even God Himself does not know arithemtic, as Little Therese says.

Have no worries at all that you will be damned; if you fall, kiss the Adorable Face of your Divine Friend, renew your good resolutions, and move on. This was the practice of St. Therese. “There,” she would say; “all is forgiven.” Better still, imitate St. Mechtilde and thank God *here and how* for saving you; He cannot fail to reward such confidence (provided that we sincerely make an effort to love Him). Read St. Mechtilde and St. Gertrude if you doubt this.

‘Once when Mechtilde was praying for a certain person, she saw that person’s soul as [if] it were a little child within the Divine Heart. And Our Lord said:

“Let her come to Me thus in all her troubles, let her cling to My Divine Heart and seek comfort there, and I will never abandon her.”
– ‘Divine Communications,’ Vol. I, p. 125

Little St. Therese, pray for us.
St. Gertrude, pray for us.
St. Mechtilde, pray for us.
Sr. Gertrude Mary, pray for us.
Sr. Benigna Consolata, pray for us.

[The computer I am currently using has forced me to use a different format for posts… hopefully I will resolve this soon, so I can include pictures etc.]

If there were no Misery, there would be no Mercy

“The earth, O Lord, is full of thy mercy…”
– Psalm 119:64

The following words of consolation are taken from ‘Divine Communications,’ Vol. 1, by Rev. Auguste Saudreau, the master of mysticism:

‘Once,’ relates Mother Mary of the Divine Heart, ‘having committed some sins of impatience, I asked Our Lord to forgive me, and I said to him: “Why do you still let me have these faults, seeing that I do nothing but offend You by them?” He answered that when I fell into these faults and asked His pardon with humility and contrition, this act of humiliation glorified Him more than the faults offended Him, as they were committed more out of human frailty than deliberately, and they gave Him an opportunity to show His mercy and to wash the soul in His Precious Blood, and that thereby His precious Blood became daily more fruitful.’

Another time, in order to reassure her, Our Lord made this comparison: “Suppose a wife was carrying a precious vase that belonged to her husband, and let it drop out of weakness or inattention, would not the husband feel more compassion when he thought of his wife’s weakness and the distress she would feel at her carelessness, than irritation at the loss of the vase?”

But in order that our contrition may make up for our negligences to this extent, it must be inspired by pure love; if we are only grieved at our own continual wretchedness, this too human sorrow will not have the same effect. (p. 113)

[Unfortunately I was too busy to post last Sunday; but henceforth I will post every Sunday, unless unforeseen circumstances prevent me from doing so… On another note, I am enjoying myself in the monastery! The Risen Lord is literally under the same roof… Lastly, for those who have contacted me by e-mail, I apologise for not replying; I am having problems accessing my account from another country. It could take a few weeks to sort out.]

All prayers are appreciated! I gratefully offer daily Mass for every reader of ‘Littlest Souls.’

Pax Christi!

My Last Post… for now…

“All for God, all for His glory, and all through pure love.”

– Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos

Dear readers,

Tomorrow I will be embarking on a journey to (somewhere in) Europe, where I will be entering a Benedictine monastery! I will offer Mass every day for all the readers of Littlest Souls – past, present, and future.

Please pray for me, too! And if you would be so kind, please also pray that Sr. Benigna Consolata may be declared a “Venerable” in 2016, which marks the 100th anniversary of her entrance into eternal life, and the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy! This, I believe, is no coincidence.

I have been given permission to continue with my blog, so I will contribute to Littlest Souls once a week, most likely.

All the best, dear friend!

“Thou wilt be consumed by Love. Yes, My little spouse, I accept thy sacrifice with all the expansion of My love. I will immolate thee, but it will be always with the sword of Love. I will enchain thee, but with the bonds of love. I will consume thee, but in the fire of My Love.”

– Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata

The Life and Revelations of Sister Jeanne Bénigne Gojos

jeanne-benigne

Her Birth

Servant of God (S.G.) Sr. Jeanne Bénigne was born on July 20, 1615, in Viuz, Veronay, a small French village situated in the diocese of Geneva. Her father and mother were both from respectable Catholic families, who took care to observe the Commandments, and practice works of mercy.

Her Baptism

On July 22, the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene (and the birth of St. Margaret Mary*), little Jeanne received the grace of Baptism. Her mother chose this name because her birth was a cause of joy for all her family.

[*In the year 1657, Sr. Jeanne Benigne prophesied about a Sister Margaret Mary, who would teach a profitable devotion in the Church i.e. devotion to the Sacred Heart.]

Her Childhood

Shortly after her baptism, she was entrusted to the care of her grandfather, Anthelme Perjure. He was a very wealthy and respected man, renowned for his great charity towards the poor. We can only estimate the extent of his influence on Jeanne, whose first words were,I want to be a saint.” Whenever the question was repeated to her, she always gave the same response: “I want to be a saint. Yes, yes, Jeanne wants nothing else but holiness.” Our Lord was already acting impressively upon the soul of his beloved child, who, like St. John the Baptist, was to be a child of grace.

At the age of 4, Jeanne was afflicted by smallpox, which left her features disfigured. Her illness was so severe that her parents feared for her life. On another occasion, Jeanne fell into a fire, but was fortunate enough to escape with nothing worse than a sore hand. Later, little Jeanne faced yet another grave danger when a man who was carrying her on horseback nearly drowned in the river.

When she reached a fitting age, Jeanne was taught how to read, write, sing and dance. She was particularly fond of singing and dancing; but these things could never satisfy her heart; she thirsted for the All, the Alpha and the Omega.

Inevitably – as happens in the lives of all servants of the Divine Master – Jeanne became the victim of the world’s assaults; vanity, attachment to creatures, and frivolous pastimes knocked at the door of her heart – but in vain. These attacks only induced Jeanne to seek the safety of the cloister with greater ardour.

Spiritual Formation

At the age of 11, Jeanne made her first Communion with great devotion. She would often spend long periods before the Blessed Sacrament, where she occasionally tasted great spiritual sweetness. “It seemed to me,” she wrote “that when that time was past I was a poor orphan, no longer having my Divine Saviour before my eyes.”

To sustain her in the spiritual life, she read the writings of St. Francis de Sales, and the holy Gospels. The latter in particular inspired her with great lights, unction, reverence and love for Almighty God, Who penetrated her heart with an intense hatred of the least fault. Later in life she could say in truth:

“I would rather die a thousand times than offend Him. I have a mortal hatred of the very least defects.”

An EverIncreasing Flame

Jeanne’s ardent love of God, and her hatred of sin – two sides of the same coin – would continue to grow throughout her life, even to an heroic degree. The Divine Gardener would continue to graft Himself every more intimately to the soul of His loving daughter, in whom He had planted the seed of a desire for the religious life; it was only time before this seed bore fruit. Since a young age, God had been drawing her irresistibly to the cloister, to sacrifice, to silence, to self–abnegation. ‘Therefore, behold I will allure her, and will lead her into the wilderness: and I will speak to her heart’ (Hosea 2:14).

One day, at Holy Communion, Our Lord clearly manifested His Will to Jeanne; she was to retire from the world and give herself without reserve to God. At first, her confessor strongly dissuaded her from doing so – but he cited only earthly reasons. In her affliction, Jeanne addressed her ardent sights to the Blessed Mother, asking her to fulfil her resolution to give herself entirely to God within only a few months. Her prayer was answered. “During this time,” she writes, “by a sort of miracle, I found means, through one of our out–sisters of Annecy [of the Order of the Visitation], of asking to be received there without anyone knowing it… At the end of the limit I had given to Mary, my powerful Advocate, the out–sister, together with the chaplain of our first Monastery at Annecy, arrived at our house, saying quite frankly that they had come to take me away to that holy place, and that our Mothers had granted me admission into their house. I had made this choice the better to accomplish my desire of being a saint, for I had heard of the sublime perfection of the life that was led there. I had also in view to go to a distance from my relations and my country, in order that God might more readily make known to me His Will.”

Her Entrance into Religion

Despite her good intentions, Jeanne’s parents gently reproached her for acting so secretively. Her father was particularly reluctant to let go of his dear child, but the mother persuaded him to accept with docility the sacrifice that God was asking of them. After receiving her parents’ blessing, Jeanne left on the eve of the Feast of St. John for the Visitation of Holy Mary in Annecy, France, where she would arrive on the Feast of the Holy Innocents. This day also marked the 13th anniversary of the death of [Saint] Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva. Jeanne knelt before his tomb that very day when “… she began to feel a grace which may have had some little resemblance to that which the great St. Paul received at the moment of his conversion; for she felt herself not only blind to all worldly objects, but dead to all worldly feelings.”

The religious life was, for Sr. Jeanne Benigne, a source of innumerable blessings from Heaven. Almighty God bestowed upon her the gift of infused prayer, a great purity of heart, and He occupied her affections to such an extent that “… He became thenceforward the Sovereign Master of her whole being by a continual perception and adoration of His divine Will in all things.”

The morning after entering the religious life, Sr. Jeanne changed put on the clothes of a servant–maid and began her new life within the walls of the Visitation. Writing later in life, she tells us that, since entering the religious house, not once did she lose sight of God, Who often manifested Himself to her in the most profound ways. Her life was truly extraordinary; she was often the recipient of visions, locutions, and other mystical graces. She learnt many valuable and inspiring lessons from the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity, from the Blessed Mother, and even from St. Francis de Sales.

Her Extraordinary Sanctity

It was evident to those around her, that Sr. Jeanne Benigne was a privileged child of God; she was a model religious, who sought nothing but Christ and His good–pleasure. Although she tried to conceal her gifts, it was of no use; it was noted by the sisters, for example, that when Sr. Jeanne tried to make the Sign of the Cross without anyone perceiving it, this often resulted in remarkable cures, including the prolongation of life, and deliverance from temptations and distress. “God also promised her that during the course of her life He would preserve this country [France] from pestilence and famine, and from the dangerous consequences of the siege, as well as from other causes of public affliction; and this protection was in reality experienced, although we were often threatened with those scourges; and the secret favours she obtained for the whole state, and for us in particular, were innumerable.”

“And I say that Benigna is she by whom I go about cleansing the world from sins and heresy, often granting to her real conversions from both, such as the conversions of pagans and Turks.”

– Jesus to Sr. Jeanne Benigne (p. 192, ‘Divine Communications’ by Rev. Auguste Saudreau, Vol. 1)

No less of an authority than Mother de Chantal [St. Jane Frances de Chantal] “… judged favourably of the ways by which this soul was led, and said that the designs of God upon her were great; that love and grace would do admirable things in her favour.” This holy soul, a friend of St. Francis de Sales, ensured that Sr. Jeanne Benigne’s virtue was tried. This proved to be an occasion of countless graces for Sr. Jeanne Benigne and for the whole community at Annecy, who were greatly edified by her sublime virtue.

On the 31st of May, 1637, Sr. Jeanne Benigne received the habit from the hands of Mother de Chantal. “She redoubled her efforts to attain to the state of pure love; and her virtue gained her the esteem and affection of all the sisters, who found great consolation in conversing with her.”

Throughout her religious life, Sr. Jeanne Benigne was ever faithful in observing the Rule, which Our Lord gave her a profound respect for her, drawing her attention to particular words to meditate upon and put into practice. Such condescension on the part of Love Incarnate served to inflame the heart of Sr. Jeanne Benigne; she was always inventing new ways to mortify herself, so that Christ may reign in her soul. She sought to eradicate even the least shadow of a fault by means of continual mortifications of the senses, and of her own will. ‘Go not after thy lusts, but turn away from thy own will.’ (Eccles. 18:30)

In addition to her self–imposed sacrifices, she also suffered from strange maladies, which she bore with her usual patience and even with delight. Like the Sacred Heart of her Beloved Saviour, the heart of Benigne was a blazing furnace; the more she loaded it with the wood of the Cross, the more ardently it burned for God and for souls. “No, no,” she would exclaim; “O sovereign clemency, Heart of Jesus, pardon all the world and punish only Benigne; let her bear the chastisements that are due to it.”

She confessed on at least one occasion that sufferings were no longer a burden for her; rather, they were a delight, for they were opportunities to prove her love for her Heavenly Spouse.

For the sake of brevity, we pass over the greater part of Sr. Jeanne’s religious life. Suffice it to say that we are speaking here of a truly privileged soul, who was called to an unusual sanctity. “Ah!” said Our Lord to Sr. Jeanne one day, “what is wanting to the grace I bestow on thee in showing Myself to thee, except duration, to be able to call thyself blessed.” On another occasion the Three Divine Persons addressed these words to her:

“Benigne must do everything in the spirit of Jesus, and must follow Him in all things, to glorify us in Him and by Him.”

How admirably did Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos appear to put this sublime lesson into effect!

Her Holy Death

“It was on Wednesday, the 5th of November, 1692, at eight o’clock in the evening, that we witnessed the end of the holy life of this venerable sister, at the age of seventy–seven years, five months, and fifteen days, of which she had passed fifty–seven years in religion, as a humble lay-sister, which was no doubt a privilege granted by God to her humility, notwithstanding the frequent intentions that had been formed of giving her the black veil.

As she had often foretold, her death took place in the twenty–third week after Pentecost, on the Sunday of which the Gospel relates the story of that woman who only wished to touch the hem of the Saviour’s garment that she might be healed, and who won that praise from the mouth of Eternal Wisdom, Fides tua te salvam fecit, with an encouragement to confide in His goodness.”

Her Influence Today

S.G. Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos is a powerful intercessor, whose influence can still be experienced today. After her death, many holy and learned priests and religious gave written evidence attesting to her sanctity.

On November 5, 1908, Maria Consolata – another privileged nun of the Visitation Order – received the white habit with the name Sr. Benigna Consolata. This was no coincidence. These two privileged souls shared much in common. Our Lord even referred to the Revelations of Sr. Jeanne Benigne in a locution to Sr. Benigna Consolata.

Our Lord Desires to Make Himself Known Through Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos

“One day,” writes Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos, “I asked my pure Love in what manner I could exalt that glory, and I received from Him this instruction:

“By being obedient to My graces, and by writing them down also by obedience; yes, My Benigne, submission attracts My glory to the soul, and that enables it to gain victories, as thy holy Founder teaches you all, and attracts Me to the earth of your heart, which thus remains full and penetrated by Me. My daughter, I am much glorified by all those who know how to conquer themselves, and who for love of Me do violence to their passions, to bring them under the empire of holy love, and under the loving law of My Will.”

On another occasion, “… Our Lord confirmed the command to write, and there took place a kind of dialogue between Him and His Benigne. “Alas!” she said, “what wilt Thou gain by these writings, O Lord ?”

“My glory will be exalted by them.”

“O God! Nothingness exalt the All! How can that be?”

“By showing how I love this nothing,” Jesus replied.

“But to what purpose should they learn what Thou hast done for me?”

“They will be excited to love me by reading it.”

“Ah! Lord, my little virtue will not correspond to Thy bounties, they will never believe them!”

“He who will not believe shall not taste them.”

“Ah! my God, who will be able to collect Thy divine favours out of my rough copies? What person will take so much trouble?”

“I will find her, Benigne, trust to my care, and I will reward those who shall read the recital of the graces which I have been pleased to heap upon thy soul.”

She said again to her Jesus: “Faith does not oblige anyone to believe these divine favours.” But He taught her that the heart which loves perfectly hopes strongly, believes its Lover easily, and will possess even in this life all it can desire from His bounty.”

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SOME REVELATIONS GIVEN TO SR. JEANNE BENIGNE GOJOS

Source: ‘Life of Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos, lay–sister of the Visitation of Holy Mary, who died in the odour of sanctity in the Monastery of Turin, in 1692’ by Mother Marie Geltrude E. Provane De Leyni

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Our Misery Attracts Divine Mercy

“… remember that I love thee, that where misery and poverty abound, there I pour out My mercy, and the riches of My grace, and that as I cannot abase myself to the unworthiness of thy soul, I raise it up to Myself, freeing it from its dross and imperfection by means of my preventing love…”

– Words of Our Lord (p. 51)

Obedience Gives Value to the Least of our Actions

“My Spouse tells me that nothing but obedience and love give a high value to our good actions, and that obedience confers merit even on indifferent ones. That all we do with little love is painful, and if the merit of it is not quite lost, it is at least much diminished.”

– Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos (p. 56)

Obedience Attracts the Divine Assistance

“… submission attracts My glory to the soul, and that enables it to gain victories, as thy holy Founder teaches you all, and attracts Me to the earth of your heart, which thus remains full and penetrated by Me. My daughter, I am much glorified by all those who know how to conquer themselves, and who for love of me do violence to their passions, to bring them under the empire of holy love, and under the loving law of My Will.”

– Words of Our Lord (p. 61)

God Desires Love Alone

“Benigne, I love those who love me, and I desire only the love of my creature.”

– Words of Our Lord (p. 62)

Humility Attracts Divine Grace

“I have learnt that the sincere avowal of my powerlessness for good is a wonderful secret of love to please God, to draw Him to me and to restore me to my place near Him…”

– Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos (p. 63)

Jesus Does Not Abandon the Suffering Soul

“I am with him who suffers for love of me.”

– Words of Our Lord (p. 65)

The Fruits of Good–will

“He who keeps my law will abound in benignity, happiness, and long life.”

– Words of the Eternal Father (p. 66)

Love, Hope, Sacrifice, Abandonment

“In short, I will that my Benigne should never cease to love God, to hope in Him, to suffer with her Spouse, and to abandon herself to love. These are the four laws which Divine Love gives her.”

– Words of Our Lord (p. 67)

Prayer for Sinners

“Benigne, oh, tell Me to pacify these kings, and to cease to punish them by means of themselves.”

– Words of Our Lord (p. 79)

Jesus Loves to See us do Battle

“I shall then conceal from thee the pleasure I take in seeing thee fight against my enemy; yes, Benigne, I shall be in thee in a singular manner.”

– Words of Our Lord (p. 85)

God is our Protector and Guide

“Fear nothing; love guides thy steps; I tell thee again that My eyes are upon thee.”

– Words of God (p. 85)

The Importance of Work and Manual Labour

“… my holy Angels help me to do my work, and make me think highly of manual labour.”

– Sr. Jeanne Benigne (p. 103)

Death to Self

“I have learnt that God loves nothing so much as a heart dead to self, and that nothing gives Him more glory than such a heart when it no longer exists but in His divine Will.”

– Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos (p. 147)

Purity of Intention

“I was taught that the soul that gives heed to this [purity of intention] gains much in a short time, as I have said elsewhere; but here I add that my Master taught me that by this purity of intention the soul sees accomplished in her the words of the apostle, ‘He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him [1 Cor. 1:17],’ and that it thus receives a blessed capacity of willing all that God wills, or rather a kind of impossibility of willing, desiring or loving anything but what God wills that it should desire, or will, or love, or do.”

– Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos (p. 218)

The Treasure of Divine Grace

“I have placed my treasure in thee – keep it sedulously.”

– Words of Our Lord (p. 239)

Union with God: A Work of Divine Love

“… My loving-kindness unites Me to thee, and my grace unites thee to Me…”

– Words of Our Lord (p. 294)

Jesus Loves Each Soul with an Infinite Love

“… I feel for thee the same tenderness which I felt for thy soul in particular upon the Cross…”

– Words of Our Lord (p. 294)

Jesus is our Strength

“I will be thy sole Support.”

– Words of Our Lord (p. 319)

Mary is Our Mother and Protector

“Jesus, Saviour of souls, wills that Benigne should be protected by His Holy Mother, even in her death.”

– Words of Our Lord (p. 319)

Examine your Conscience

“Know thyself.”

– Words of the Divine Spirit (p. 321)

Union with God in Paradise

“God renders the blessed like Himself; yes, Benigne, My elect by seeing Me are in such wise transformed in Me that they have no other will than Mine; their love springs from My love.”

– Words of Our Lord (p. 341)

The Tender Love of our Heavenly Father

“My daughter, what can afflict thee? What do I not do for thee? I keep thee in My Bosom, thou hast been brought there with My Son, thou art My friend, I stoop down to thee, I fill thee with My graces, I give thee no reason to think that I omit to confer a single one upon thee.”

– Words of the Eternal Father (p. 345)

What Pleases God Most

“… submission to My divine good pleasure is what is most pleasing in My sight…”

– Words of the Eternal Father (p. 346)

God Protects Those Abandoned to Him

“… if thou entirely givest up thy own foresight, I will take care of thee; I take pleasure in working miracles for the hearts that belong to Me.”

– Words of the Eternal Father (p. 348)

Faith Glorifies God

“… if thou wouldst glorify the Father and the Son, believe My words; the loss is theirs who do not believe in Me…”

– Words of Our Lord (p. 350)

Docility

“… let Me act as I please…”

– Words of Our Lord (p. 357)

Involuntary Imperfections

“Benigne must not be surprised to see some faults in herself after receiving so many mercies, and even to feel imperfect emotions, provided she does not dwell on them.”

– Words of Our Lord (p. 358)

He who Possesses God, Lacks Nothing

“God will be with thee as long as He is God, by an infinite mercy. What canst thou desire from us that thou hast not received?”

– The Three Persons in their Unity (p. 359)

An Echo of Our Lord’s Words to St. Margaret Mary

“If I had not already made this divine Eucharistic institution of love, I would make it this very moment for thee, Benigne of Jesus – that is thy new surname.”

– Words of Our Lord (p. 367)

Jesus Inspires us to Ask Him for Graces

“When wilt thou come with an open heart; it is I who incite thee to ask; ask, and I can refuse thee nothing.”

– Words of Our Lord (p. 367)

Jesus is “the Way”

“Come, Benigne, unite thyself to Me Who have united the Godhead to the Manhood, two contraries not to be reconciled by any but Me.”

– Words of Our Lord (p. 373)

Cast your Cares upon Him

“Confide in the God of thy heart, who loves thee.”

– Words of Our Lord (p. 407)

Purgatory

“Souls which not being pure enough to fly at once to Heaven are destined to Purgatory, go thither to undergo their pains so lovingly and with a grace of such divine satisfaction that they find their punishment sweet in the justice of the Will of God. Oh! how extreme is their happiness in being assured of the love of their Creator!”

– Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos (p. 417)

Every Movement Towards God is an Effect of Divine Love

“My daughter Benigne, when thou shalt be quite convinced of thine own nothingness and misery, thou wilt learn to magnify My name. I am the Almighty, raising to Myself what is but dust; My mercy is infinite, and I take pleasure in strikingly displaying it in the sanctification of the chosen souls who abandon themselves with tender confidence to My Providence.”

– The Heavenly Father (p. 347)

Why You Should Love St. Joseph

saint-joseph-and-jesus-with-john-the-baptist

“I wish that every day you offer special prayers to My mother and St. Joseph, My most sweet guardian.”

– Jesus to St. Margaret Mary

If we exclude Our Lord, it can hardly be disputed that Mary, the Immaculate Conception, is the greatest Saint in Paradise.

After Our Lady, we have St. Joseph. [This, at least, is the contention of many holy and learned individuals.]

“I wish I could persuade everyone to be devoted to this glorious saint,” said St. Teresa of Avila, “for I have great experience of the blessings which he can obtain from God.” She goes on to say that she has never known anyone who was devoted to this humble Saint, who did not advance noticeably in virtue. Ask for his intercession and he will help you! His love and protection for the Mystical Body of Christ is immense!

Some Revelations About St. Joseph

“Benigne wishes to know the excellences of St. Joseph; let her know, then, that he is seated in Heaven near his Spouse, my blessed Mother, in one of the highest places; that the whole Trinity regards him, treats him, and glorifies him as the foster father of My Sacred Humanity, and that we readily grant all that is asked of us in his name and by his intercession.”

– Jesus to S.G. Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos

“The whole human race has much undervalued the privileges and prerogatives conceded to my blessed spouse and they know not what his intercession with God is able to do. I assure thee, my dearest, that he is one of the greatly favored personages in the divine presence and has immense power to stay the arms of divine vengeance.”

– Our Lady to Ven. Mary of Agreda

“In an ecstasy, a saint has seen the body of St. Joseph preserved intact in a tomb, the site of which is yet unknown. The more the glorious Spouse of the most Blessed Virgin is honored, the sooner will the finding of his body take place, which will be a day of great joy for the Church.”

– S.G. Fr. Paul of Moll

“What you request shall be granted.”

– Almighty God to St. Joseph*

[*According to Maria Cecilia Baij, O.S.B., these words were addressed to St. Joseph in response to his many requests for the conversion of a hardened sinner, while he was on earth]

“You must see to it that you continually increase your love and devotion to this great Saint. In all your necessities, you must avail yourself of his protection, under all circumstances you must encourage as many people as possible toward this devotion . . . for indeed, whatever my devoted spouse requests in Heaven, the Almighty God will grant on Earth.”

– Our Lady to Ven. Mary of Agreda

“… at the name of St. Joseph, the spouse of the Virgin Mother, all the saints made a profound inclination to him, testifying, by the serenity and sweetness of their looks, that they rejoiced with him for his exalted dignity.”

– A Vision Granted to St. Gertrude

Some Prayers of St. Joseph

The following prayers are taken from ‘The Life of Saint Joseph as manifested by Our Lord, Jesus Christ to Maraia Cecilia Baij, O.S.B.’

According to this privileged soul, St. Joseph addressed these prayers to Almighty God while he was on earth:

“See, oh my God, I am all Yours! There is nothing that can separate me from You. I have nothing but You. You are my entire inheritance, my only support. You are my consolation, my entire good. From you alone do I expect help and strength. I desire nothing besides You. I reject all that the world has to offer me. Gladly do I choose poverty, humiliation, suffering, for by them I will please You, Who are my Lord and my God, and therefore, possess complete dominion over me.” (p. 52)

“My God, afflict me with tribulations and chastisements; I am prepared to suffer anything, if only You shall no longer be offended or displeased!” (p. 67)

“May Your almighty arm uphold me! I place myself entirely into Your loving, Fatherly arms.”

– St. Joseph (p. 47)

The Eucharist and a Conversation Between Christ and a Demon

In the Revelations of St. Bridget of Sweden we find many illuminating – and often fascinating – revelations on a range of topics. In Book 4, Chapter 63 of her Revelations, we encounter some words that are particularly pertinent to our times. This chapter details a conversation between Our Lord and a demon who had previously attempted to deceive St. Bridget in order to nullify her faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

Below is a sample of this conversation.

A demon with an enormous belly appeared to the bride [St. Bridget] and said: “… Do you not see with your eyes and hear with the ears of your body the sound of the breaking of the material bread of the host? … Even if it is possible for God to be in the mouth of the righteous, how can he stoop to come to the unrighteous whose greed is without limit or measure?”

… The Lord said [to the demon]: “… Did I not say that he who eats My flesh shall have eternal life? And you say that it is a lie and that no one eats My flesh. Hence, my people are [according to the demon] more idolatrous than those who worship stones and trees… Was my body that Thomas touched after my resurrection a spiritual or corporeal body? If it was corporeal, how did it pass through the locked doors? But, if it was spiritual, how was it visible to corporeal eyes?”

The devil answered: “… I state that you were both corporeal and spiritual after rising from the dead. It is because of the eternal power of your Divinity and because of a special privilege of your glorified Flesh that you can enter anywhere and be present everywhere.”

The Lord said further: “Tell Me, when Moses’ staff was turned into a serpent, was it only the image of a serpent or was it completely a serpent both inside and outside? And tell Me again, the leftover bread in those baskets, was it really and wholly bread or just the image of bread?”

The devil answered: “The entire staff became a serpent, what was in the baskets was entirely bread, and it was entirely done by Your power and might.”

The Lord said: “Is it more difficult or more miraculous for Me to perform a similar miracle now than it was then, if I please? Or, if My glorified Flesh could pass through the locked doors then, why can It not be in the hands of the priests now? Does it, perhaps, entail an effort for My Divinity to unite that which is least with that which is heavenly, the earthly with the most sublime? Certainly not. But, father of lies, just as you excel in wickedness, so too my love is and always shall be upon all creatures… I create something out of nothing and a visible thing out of an invisible one. I can reveal something through a visible sign and shape that, however, truly is one thing in what is signified, yet is seen as something else.”

… Then the Son of God spoke once more: “… If you believe that I am in the hands of the priest, even if the priest doubts it, then I am truly in his hands due to the faith of the believers and those present, as well as due to the words that I myself established and uttered. Everyone who receives Me receives both My Divine and Human natures as well as the form [appearance, accidents] of bread.

… What is My humanity if not an active body, the conjunction of God and man, the Head of all Christians?

Therefore, those who believe in God and receive His Body receive the Divine nature as well, for they receive life. They also receive the human nature by which God and man are joined. Again, they receive the form of bread, because the One who is hidden as to his own form is received beneath a different form as a test of faith. Likewise, wicked persons also receive the same divinity but as a stern judge rather than an affectionate friend. They receive his human nature as well, though less easily appeased. They also receive the form of bread, for they receive the truth hidden beneath the visible form, but it is not sweet to them.”