Hidden Treasures of the Spiritual Life

“When a soul is burnt up with desire to love, nothing is a burden to her, but if she feels cold and spiritless everything becomes hard and difficult.”

– Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez (‘The Way of Divine Love,’ TAN Books)

Shortly after Jesus expired upon the Altar of the Cross on Calvary, His Sacred Heart was pierced with a lance. By allowing this to happen, Our Lord has revealed to us the infinite, tender and impenetrable depths of His vulnerable love; He has opened to us the infinite treasury of His graces, His mercy and His merits. And He desires to share these riches with us! What a shame for them to go to waste, for they were purchased with so much love and so much suffering!

‘Come to Me,’ He says, ‘all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you’ (Mt. 11:28. ‘And he that thirsteth, let him come: and he that will, let him take the water of life, freely’ (Rev. 22:17).

The water of life that gushes forth from the pierced Side of Christ is the life of grace, which is of greater worth than the created universe. Grace transforms even the most mundane, seemingly trivial actions, into everlasting rewards; grace “divinizes” our gifts by mingling them, so to speak, with the treasures found in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Everything we offer Him turns to gold. Ultimately, Jesus wants our hearts: ‘My son, give Me thy heart’ (Prov. 23:26).

“I would like them to know how much I desire their perfection, and that it consists in doing their ordinary actions in intimate union with Me. If they once grasped this, they could divinize their life and all their activities by this close union with My Heart.

– Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menenedez (‘The Way of Divine Love’)

“When I think that if God were to give us the entire universe with all its treasures that this would not be comparable to the lightest suffering.”

– St. Therese to her sister Celine (Carmel, October 20, 1888)

Suppose you are at home and someone leaves their dirty dishes in the sink. “Argh! What a grub!” This might be your first reaction. But look with the eyes of the faith. Our Lord has permitted this small inconvenience; and by accepting it for the love of Him Who suffered so much for you, you will be consoling Him for so much ingratitude that He meets with today, and you will be storing up for yourself an eternal reward. ‘If thou didst know the gift of God, and who he is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou perhaps wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water’ (Jn. 4:10).

“Above all, try and do ordinary things well. The opportunity to do great things comes rarely and you are quite capable of doing them when it does come. Just concentrate on doing the little things really well.”

– Jesus to Yvonee-Aimee

Every day, there are countless opportunites to love God; but how many look upon these occasions as gifts from God? If God aks much of us, it is because He desires to give much; a gift given to God is a gift received. This idea is found all throughout the writings of St. Therese, who, referring to the wisdom of P. Pichon, says that the greatest gift God can give us is not to give much, but to ask much.

In imitation of St. Therese, Sr. Gertrude Mary, Sr. Yvonne-Aimee, Sr. Josefa Menendez, and so many other little souls, let us strive for fidelity in little things, like Jesus, of Whom it is written: “HE HATH DONE ALL THINGS WELL” (Mk. 7:37).

Resolution:

Offer everything you do and everything you suffer to God, praising Him all the while. ‘Rejoice in the Lord always’ (Phil. 4:4). Remember that holiness is the flowering of God’s love in the soul; it is not the result of our efforts, but of our humble, confident acceptance of God’s love that seeks to transform our souls into Himself. (This requires effort; but it is not effort itself that sanctifies. The Holy Spirit is the Sanctifier, Who alone is competent to recreate within us the image of the Son of God.)

This was the practice of Sr. Gertrude Mary [d. May 24, 1908], who loved her God before all else. J.B. Lemius, the former Superior of Montematre, writes this: “The Sacred Heart has willed that this book* should be written; and will bless it… This little soul, so well beloved of Jesus, fascinates other souls. . . . She is worthy to rank beside little Teresa of Lisieux, and other flowers which our Lord has made to blossom in these days. I am convinced that we are face to face with an extraordinarily privileged soul.”

* https://archive.org/details/sistergertrudema00leguuoft

Our Lord said to her:

“My daughter, you have given Me everything. You have sacrificed the whole of your life to Me. In return I give you all the treasures of My Heart. They are at your disposal, for yourself, and for all the souls you love, and for whom you desire great things. Henceforth you can say to Me: Jesus, I have nothing more to offer Thee, but I love this soul, these souls, I owe them gratitude, and I address myself to Thy Divine Heart, for Thou Thyself hast told me to do so.”

She herself writes these incredible words:

“The Infinite seems to forget what He is and what I am.

He forgets His greatness and
dignity, in order to stoop to my nothingness.

O God, what art Thou doing? Thou dost
unite two contraries; for, if I seek what Thou art, and what I am, I reply:

Thou art the
Eternal, and I am a poor creature, a mere
nothing, which passes away.

Thou, my God, art
Infinite Sanctity, and I am only imperfection
and sin.

Thou art Infinite Power, and I am
weakness itself.

Thou art Uncreated Light,
and I am but darkness. . .

This is what Thou
art, and what I am.”

+BENEDICTUS DEUS+

 

Our Friends, the Saints

rome-714658_960_720

St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome

‘And therefore we also having so great a cloud of witnesses over our head…’

– Hebrews 12:1

The doctrine of the Communion of Saints is a most consoling one. At any time, and in any place, we may address any of the saints as if they were right beside us. They are not indifferent to our sufferings, our needs, our requests, our desire for friendship. On the contrary, they are ever attentive to our needs; like iron cast into the fire, the Elect burn with the same love that constitutes the very essence of God; and like Him, Who seeks to draw all souls to Himself, the saints are always looking for chances to help us, ‘not willing that any should perish, but that all should return to penance’ (2 Peter 3:9).

Some – usually citing 1 Tim. 2:5 – say that it is useless or even blasphemous to seek the saints’ intercession. This is a sad error. To pray “to” the saints, as St. Alphonsus assures us, “is not derogatory to the honour due to God, but it is doubling it; for it is honouring the king not only in His Person but in His servants.

“It is good and useful to invoke them by supplication, and to fly to their aid and assistance to obtain benefits from God through his Son Jesus Christ.”

– The Council of Trent, Sess. 25, De. inv. Sanct

Much more could be said.

An Easy Way to Meet the Saints

The Church teaches that the entire Heavenly Court is present at every Mass. All those saints you love to read about; all those relatives of yours’ who have died (in God’s grace) throughout the centuries; those loved ones who have gone before you… all of these, plus many more, are present at every Mass. They love you; talk to them. Offer the Mass for them! This was the practice of St. Gertrude, and the saints let her know how pleasing this offering was to them!

The Saints Participate in Every Mass

In the Revelations of St. Gertrude, we find many remarkable visions of the Mass. Here is but one of these gems (quoted in ‘The Blessed Eucharist: Our Greatest Treasure,’ by Fr. Michael Muller, C.S.S.P.):

“The Son of God then rose from His royal throne, and, turning towards God the Father, entoned the Gloria in excelsis, in a clear and sonorous voice. At the word gloria, He extolled the immense and incomprehensible omnipotence of God the Father; at the words in excelsis, He praised His profound wisdom; at Deo, He honored the inestimable and indescribable sweetness of the Holy Ghost. The whole celestial court then continued in a most harmonious voice, Et in terra pax hominibus bonai voluntatis.”

If only we could see what marvels take place at every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass! … Still, we can see these things with the eyes of faith.

In Heaven, You Will be Known and Loved by the Entire Heavenly Court

“You will know my Saints, and each of them in particular.

You will have special relations with each, according to the measure in which you have contributed to increase their [accidental] glory.”

– Jesus to Sr. Gertrude Mary

[Much, much more could be said; but that is all I have time for. Please reflect upon these consoling truths, and your life will be forever changed.]

 

 

An Image of the Faithful Soul

 

burning-candle

“Just as the perpetual lamp in the sanctuary

is burning only for My glory and

consumes itself for My sake,

so must you consume yourself through love for Me

and have in view Me alone…

it is My Will to be all for you.”

– Jesus to Mother Mary of the Divine Heart

‘I am come,’ says the Lord, ‘to cast fire on the earth; and what will I, but that it be kindled?’
(Lk. 12:49) What powerful words! Our God, Who is a ‘consuming fire’ (Heb. 12:29), wants to communicate Himself to us, along with the delights of His Divinity, in which we are made partakers by sanctifying grace; He wants to consume us, to immolate us in the Fire of His Divine Charity, so that, like so many lambs, we might offer ourselves as living hosts to be consumed by and for God alone. That is sanctity. ‘He must increase, but I must decrease’ (Jn. 3:30). The world desperately needs such souls.

If you want an easy way to remember this all-important spiritual principle, namely, that holiness consists in being consumed by and for God alone, you simply have to remember these 33 words, which Our Lord addressed to Mother Anne Margaret Clement:

“Everything I did and everything I suffered was the result

of My love for your soul; is it not just

that the some love should induce you to undertake all

for My sake?”

[Not only do these 33 words correspond to the 33 years in which Our Lord laboured to win our love, friendship and eternal happiness, but they also remind us of John 3:30, quoted above.]

At times, the work of our sanctification is, no doubt, a painful operation; but this is all the more reason to give thanks to God, Who, from all eternity, has foreseen our sufferings, temptations and difficulties, and has ensured, in His merciful Providence, that everything will be to our profit… if only we submit to His loving designs, surrendering to Him our sins, our difficulties, our weaknesses, and ultimately, our wills. We can make no better use of our will than to constantly hand ourselves over to God. “Take me from myself and give me all to You!”

Remember: suffering lasts but a short moment; but the glory given to God lasts for eternity. Everything we do for love – or, rather, everything we let Love do in us – will be as a beautiful melody resounding throughout the courts of Heaven for all eternity.

The Love that Burns Within the Hearts of Generous Souls

“By it [a special grace of ineffable union, which was given to Sr. Jeanne Benigne] she understood that these words were spoken to her in the secret of her heart: —
by the Father: “My daughter, I receive thee;” by the Son: “My spouse, I give myself to Thee;” by the Divine Spirit: “Dear soul, I inflame thee with my love.” These words produced their effect in her soul at the same time, by a kind of globe radiant and all
on fire which was placed in the middle of her bosom, where she afterwards felt a devouring heat, which produced in her an impression of admirable purity of body, of heart, of spirit, love, and intention.” (‘The Life of Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos’)

A Sublime Lesson Regarding the Sanctification of Souls (Given by Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata)

“My Benigna, in what consists the martyrdom of love?

It consists in surrendering oneself to love as wood to the fire, or gold in the crucible; fire consumes the wood and reduces it to ashes; fire purifies the gold and makes it resplendent.

A soul surrendered to Love can no longer interrupt the operations of Love unless by her infidelity she deprives herself of its action. As fire consumes the wood entirely, so Love continues to work until the soul has arrived at the degree of perfection which God requires of it. It suffices to surrender wholly to Love, then Love will do the rest. But remark this well: when the wood is green the fire must first consume its humidity, and this takes more time: but if the wood be dry, it is immediately consumed, and the more rapidly according as the wood is more dry. So it is with souls: those who are still full of themselves find great difficulty in yielding to the action of Love; but souls dead to themselves are quickly consumed.”

“… My Benigna, I will tell thee yet more of the martyrdom of Love. The soul must let itself be consumed by Love Love is ingenious enough to know how to take everything away from the soul, without appearing to take away anything.

Let it act, and it will despoil thee. It will commence by the exterior, as the fire first consumes the bark; then it will penetrate into the interior. Benigna, give to Love all that it asks, and never say: It is enough. The more thou givest, the more it will demand, but
always with great sweetness. Love will augment in thee the desire of giving. I have very few souls surrendered so wholly to Love, because it is painful. Certain souls commence well, but turn back; they are afraid of sacrifice; I compare them to those persons who will not pluck a rose for fear they will be pricked. True love does not act so; wherever it sees a sacrifice, it darts upon it as its prey; it folds and embraces it; and the more hidden the sacrifice, the more interior and known to God alone, the more willingly is it performed. Courage, then. Tell Me thou givest Me thy will forever because thou wilt have no other movement than that of Love; then remain firm, and know that when a soul commences generously, she is always well received by My Heart. Thou mayst repair lost time by a
greater fideHty in the present and especially by using the treasures of My most sweet Heart.”

“It is so wonderful to unite oneself, poor, unworthy little victim that one is, to the Great Victim Himself.”

– Yvonne-Aimee

Man’s Only Good

“My God, my Sovereign Love, my All… My Jesus, my only Love, my God, my All... My Jesus, my only God, my All…”

– Words taken from various prayers given by Our Lord to SG. Sr. Benigna Consolata

He who possesses God, possess all. “Sanctifying grace,” writes Reginal Garrigou-Lagrange, “which makes us begin to live in this higher, supra-angelic order of the intimate life of God, is like a divine graft received in the very essence of the soul to elevate its vitality and to make it bear no longer merely natural fruits but supernatural ones, meritorious acts that merit eternal life for us.” (‘The Three Ages of the Interior Life’)

‘Furthermore,’ exclaimed St. Paul,  ‘I count all things to be but loss for the excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but as dung, that I may gain Christ‘ (Phil. 3:8).

“That I may gain Christ.” That we may gain Christ. Is this not the reason for the Incarnation? Is this not the reason behind Our Lord’s cruel passion and death? Is this not the sublime end for which we were created? What more can we desire? What else can slake our thirst for limitless Good? ‘A man cannot receive any thing, unless it be given him from Heaven.’ (John 3:27) ‘I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again I leave the world, and I go to the Father.’ (John 16:28)

“This,” writes Bl. Dom Columba Marmion, “is what our Lord Himself said to a Benedictine nun, Mother Deleloe, whose wonderful inner life has but recently been revealed:

“What more can you desire than to have within you the true source of all good, My Divine Heart?… All these great things are yours, all these treasures and riches are for the heart that I have chosen… Draw as much as you desire of these infinite delights and riches.” (‘Christ, the Ideal of the Monk’)

+++

“Maria,” said Our Lord to Sr. Benigna Consolata, “no longer go begging the love of creatures; were they to give themselves entirely to thee thou wouldst not be satisfied. GOD ALONE CAN SUFFICE FOR THEE. Maria, thou hast need of a heart which loves thee, which understands thee; it is the Heart of God thou needest.” (‘The Tendernesses of the Love of Jesus for a Little Soul’)

Happy are those who can say with St. Francis of Assisi: “My God and my All!” What a beautiful, powerful and succint prayer. To go to God; to hope for everything from Him, to desire nothing but Him, is the very reason for which we were created; there is no other means by which we can find true, lasting fulfilment. This truth is beautifully illustrated in the writings of Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos (‘The Life of Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos: Lay-Sister of the Visitation of Holy Mary’). The words speak for themselves:

“Once, on the Feast of the great St. Ambrose, I was in an extreme weakness, without devotion or application in God or to the merits of that Saint, my great protector, so that I said to our Lord:

‘Alas! my sweet Love, since I am so weak that I cannot further the interests of Thy glory as much as Thy goodness desires and signifies to me, I would punish myself for my fault by depriving myself this morning of approaching the holy Table. It is indeed the hardest penance I can impose on myself; yes, my Jesus, it is carrying my chastisement to the highest point thus to deprive myself of union with Thee by the reception of that Bread of Life.’

He made answer with a graciousness and love which penetrated my inmost soul and passed into the marrow of my bones:

‘Benigne, since when hast thou found that thou dost increase My glory, promote My interests, and make reparation for thy faults BY KEEPING AWAY FROM ME? …”

 

 

Liberty of Spirit: The End of Scrupulosity

Our_Mother_of_Perpetual_Help

Mother of Perpetual Succour, whose Feast Day is celebrated today (June 27)

Mother of Perpetual Succour, ora pro nobis!

“Walk simply in the way of the Lord, and do not torment your mind.”

– St. Francis de Sales

It was one day revealed to Bl. Bernard Francis de Hoyos that a “holy liberty of spirit” is essential to holiness. Jesus wants our hearts to be dilated, full of trust in His merciful goodness. Think of a little child in the presence of its loving father. Even when the child is not looking at its father, it is nevertheless aware of his loving gaze, his power, and his protection. Supposing that the child were to walk towards the edge of a precipice, the father will warn the child; he is always looking out for his little one. Can we doubt that God would do likewise?

Self-Centredness: An Obstacle to Holiness

It often happens that a soul who is advancing towards God, becomes increasingly aware of the many dangers and obstacles that surround us. If the soul possesses good-will, she will strive to avoid sin and its near occasions. So far so good. But the Devil, seeing that he will not win such a soul by the allurement of mortal sin, resorts to more insidious means. If only he can divert the soul’s attention away from God, his job will be that much easier. Why? Because the soul that is preoccupied with self, remains there, instead of going to God (as Our Lord said to St. Mariam of Jesus Crucified). Instead of taking the “elevator of love” (St. Therese), she remains on the earth; her thoughts dwell there, and her heart, of necessity, follows suit.

It is a great shame when a soul turns in on itself; it is deprived of many lights and merits that it would otherwise have received, and God is deprived of the glory of seeing His beloved child happy and holy. ‘The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly.’ (Jn. 10:10)

The Remedy / The Key to Liberty of Spirit

Go to Jesus.

“By His continual contact with you He will free you from your weakness and your faults and from all that troubles you. Nothing ought to prevent our going to Him.”

– Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity (who will be canonized on 16 October, 2016)

We ought to imitate King David, who, after having committed adultery and murder (I don’t say we should imitate him in that), immediately beseeched the Father of all Mercies, of Whom King David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, speaks thus:

‘For thou, O Lord, art sweet and mild: and plenteous in mercy to all that call upon thee.’

(Ps. 86:5)

Commenting on this passage, St. Alphonsus writes: “David declares that God shows not only mercy, but great mercy, to those who invoke Him…” In the same text (‘How to Pray at All Times’), the saint shares with us these consoling words:

“Consider that God is so willing to pardon sinners that He laments their perdition, when they depart far from Him and live dead to His grace. Therefore, does he lovingly call them, saying: Why will you die, O house of Israel? Return ye, and live (Ezek. 18-31). He promises to receive a soul that has forsaken Him, if only it returns to His arms: Turn to Me . . . and I will turn to you (Zach. 1-3). Would that sinners only knew how mercifully our Saviour awaits them in order to pardon them: The Lord waiteth that He may have mercy upon you (Isa. 30-18). Would that sinners realised the desire on the part of God, not, indeed, to chastise them, but to see them converted and to embrace and press them to His Heart: As I live, saith the Lord God, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live (Ezek. 33-11). He has even still more consoling words: Come and accuse Me, saith the Lord; if your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made as white as snow (Is. 1-18). In other words, He says: Sinners, repent of having offended Me and then come to Me. If I do not pardon you, accuse Me of being unfaithful to My promises; but, no, I will keep My word.”

Source: http://www.ecatholic2000.com/cts/untitled-211.shtml

What a great pity it would have been if St. Dismas (the Good Thief), instead of turning his attention to the merciful gaze of our Saviour, chose instead to contemplate the fruit of his own iniquity? Perhaps he would have remained with his sins and been damned. But no; Dismas looked to Jesus, Who is “plenteous in mercy” to all those who invoke Him with even the slightest desire to avail themselves of God’s mercy; and in looking upon the wounds and the gentle Countenance of our Divine Redeemer, his heart was moved to repentance, and he was saved.

What good can possibly come from fixating on our weakness and misery?

When Going to Jesus Appears Fruitless

Our Lord often said to St. Margaret Mary that she would only be lacking in help when His Divine Heart was lacking in power. He meant by this that, if we succumb to distrust – by which we doubt God’s infinite love and power (which is principally manifested in showing mercy to His creatures, as the Collect for the 10th Sunday after Pentecost attests) – we deprive ourselves, to some extent, of God’s assistance. ‘And He wrought not many miracles there, because of their unbelief.‘ (Mt. 13:58)

If we are making little progress in Divine Love, it is because we lack confidence in God. Our prayers should be bold, persevering, even audacious. God knows that we have nothing and can do nothing without His grace. It is precisely for this reason that we have the right and even the obligation to rely on God for everything. “My God and my All!” Every movement towards God, however slight, is the work of God. We cannot merit anything; we are neither good, nor learned, nor holy. ‘Tu solus sanctus.‘ God alone is holy (Rev. 15:4). We are only good to the extent that God acts within us. And God only acts within us to the extent that we rely on Him or let Him.

How often did Our Lord addressed these words to chosen souls:

“LET ME ACT.”

It is as if He said to us: “My little child; you are so weak that you do not know it. You can do nothing without me; you cannot so much as think a good thought without my grace. Come to Me, then, with great confidence; give yourself to Me. I will take care of you. I already am taking care of you. How else can you explain the desire that you have to possess Me? Was it not I Who put this desire in your heart?”

If we lack confidence, we should frequently beg God for this grace; He will give it, gladly. We must “not fear to be importunate” (Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez). God wants to teach us all a valuable lesson: all good comes from Him, and it is only when we truly seek Him and the Kingdom first, that we can absolutely rely on His infallible assistance. ‘You shall seek me, and shall find me: when you shall seek me with all your heart.’ (Jer. 29:13)

St. Alphonsus says that certain pusillanimous souls do not perceive that their lack of confidence is a consequence of their lack of generosity towards God; because they will not abandon themselves to God without reserve, He cannot give Himself without reserve to the soul.

“Is this a sin?”

One of the greatest obstacles to liberty of spirit is habitual analysis of the sinfulness of particular scenarios, hypothetical events, and so on. In a word, if we are fixated on sin, we are not free to love. God never intended things to be this way. “Love and do what you will,” says St. Augustine. Our Lord wants us to be as ‘simple as doves‘ (Mt. 10:16).

It must be known that, although there is a great need for vigilance, the best form of vigilance is to frequently converse with Jesus, Whose very name means “Saviour.” By speaking to Him frequently and with simplicity, invoking His aid, He will guide our feet, just as a father guides his little infant. If it should happen that we commit some fault, it will not be a great one, because our will was more or less focussed on God.

“Do not give a thought to your involuntary imperfections!”

– Jesus to Sr. Consolata (p. 36, ‘Jesus Appeals to the World’)

By means of frequent prayer (e.g. the aspiration, “My Jesus, mercy!”) the soul is liberated from a great deal of trouble; she is free to love. Such souls might happen to commit many imperfections, but God always sustains them; He redirects their attention to Him the moment they perceive their misery.

“If you should happen to commit some fault, do not grieve over it, but come and place it quickly within My Heart; then strengthen your determination to strive for the opposite virtue, but with great calmness. In that manner your every fault will become a step in advance.”

– Jesus to Sr. Consolata (p. 34, JATTW)

St. Therese perfectly exemplifies this perseverance in going to Jesus, Who seeks to purify us at every moment:

“O my good Jesus, who so benignly dost use our continual miseries to feed the fire of Thy divine Mercy, look with pitying eyes upon Thy solicitous purveyor, who lets not a moment pass without giving Thee something to burn!”

– From ‘The Tendernesses of the Love of Jesus for a Little Soul,’ taken from a prayer given by Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata

Jesus asks one thing of us: LOVE. But first, He asks that we go to Him – the emptier our hearts, the better. How else are we to receive LOVE?

Doubts may arise from time to time to confuse our conscience, to distract us from loving; but we should know that we are always safe when we turn to Jesus and Mary, and when we obey our confessor (unless we receive patently evil advice – God forbid!). Good-will, according to the saints, is the perfection that God requires of us.

Some Examples of Liberty of Spirit

+ “I was very much pleased to read,” writes St. Francis de Sales, “in the Life of St. Charles Borromeo, how he yielded to the Swiss incertain things, in which otherwise he was very strict…”

+ “… and that St. Ignatius of Loyola, being invited to play, did not refuse.”

+ “… As to St. Elizabeth of Hungary, she played and danced sometimes, when she was present at assemblies of recreation, without any prejudice to her devotion; for devotion was so deep in her soul, that her devotion increased amongst the pomps and vanities to which her condition exposed her.” (‘Introduction to the Devout Life’)

+ “Saint Spiridion, a bishop of olden times, once gave shelter to a pilgrim who was almost dying of hunger. It was the season of Lent and in a place where nothing was to be had but salt meat. This Spiridion ordered to be cooked and then gave it to the pilgrim. Seeing that the latter, notwithstanding his great need, hesitated to eat it, the Saint, although he did not require it, ate some first in order to remove the poor man’s scruples. That was a true spirit of liberty born of charity.” (Saint Francis de Sales, quoted in Rev. Quadrupani’s brilliant chapter on ‘Liberty of Spirit’: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/quadrupani/light.v.ch_16.html )

+ For the sake of charity, some of the Desert Fathers would eat as often as they had guests, even if they themselves were already sufficiently fed. They would not have eaten until they were absolutely glutted; but they knew charity is primary, and that one can always fast later, or delay the next meal.

[In the Conferences of St. John Cassian, we are given this sage advice: if we have taken on certain spiritual practices, in self-will, that are impeding our peace and spiritual growth, we should give them up. Ideally, we should submit these concerns to our confessor; that way, we avoid self-deception.]

+ St. Teresa Margaret (d. 1770), a Carmelite nun, upon seeing the sufferings of Sr. Mary Victoria at meal-time, leaned over and gave her a kiss. By this simple act of affection, St. Teresa Margaret liberated her from her violent toothache. “The Carmelite rule,” writes Berth Ghezzi (p. 12, ‘Mystics and Miracles’), “forbade one sister to kiss another, but Theresa Margaret wasn’t thinking about rules that day. She was thinking about love, and that led to a small gesture of kindness, and that led to a miracle.” ‘The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath’ (Mk. 2:27).

Like St. Teresa Margaret, St. Therese, St. Francis de Sales, and so many others, we should not be so calculating. It is God, after all, Who is our guide, our protector and our Counsellor. Rather than studying ourselves, then, as if we were some kind of characters in a play, we should prefer to study God, to love Him, to speak to Him with simplicity, and thereby to forget self. “Forgetfulness of self is the tomb of scruples.” Let us turn to our Mother of Perpetual Succour/Help, and let us avoid being children of perpetual worry; we must stop analysing our first movements, involuntary imperfections, venial sins, falls, intentions, words and the like. Go to Jesus, Go to Mary, Go to Joseph (Ite ad Joseph); enjoy their company; do not become the sport of demons by listening to their vile suggestions, which can easily be detected by the effect they have on the soul, and by the fact that they keep the soul from God.

Saint Teresa Margaret Redi

St. Teresa Margaret, Carmelite nun (d. 7 March, 1770)

Some Advice Given to Sr. Consolata Betrone

“Think no longer about yourself, about your perfection, on how to attain sanctity, or about your defects, your present and future troubles. No, I will see to your sanctification, to your sanctity. You must henceforth think only of Me and of souls; of Me to love, and of souls to save them!” (p. 131, JATTW)

Some Final Advice

If you want to acquire liberty of spirt, get to know the following holy souls and their writings:

– St. Therese

– St. Francis de Sales

– St. Gertrude

– Ven. Louis de Blois (Blosius)

– Sr. Benigna Consolata

– Sr. Gertrude Mary

In time, one will imbibe their spirit.

+++++

‘Offer up the sacrifice of justice, and trust in the Lord: many say, Who sheweth us good things?’
(Ps. 4:5)

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“Jesus, be to me a Jesus [i.e. a Saviour]!”

– Part of a prayer given by Our Lord to Sr. Benigna Consolata (The same prayer – minus the word “a” – was recommended by a Visitandine to Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos)

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“My Jesus, my only God, my All, I conjure Thee to bury me so deeply in Thy Sacred Heart that I may never be able to come forth.”

– Part of a prayer given by Our Lord to Sr. Benigna Consolata

[This post is dedicated to my Superior and spiritual Father, who gave me permission to spend a greater length of time completing this article.]

+BENEDICTUS DEUS+

Consoling Revelations

[I was hoping to publish something else today, but was prevented from doing so due to time constraints. Not to worry: I will complete the post next week.]

“Paternal help shall never be wanting to those who place themselves in My hands.”

– Jesus to St. Gemma Galgani

(p. 43, ‘The Life of St. Gemma Galgani’ by Her Spiritual Director Venerable Fr. Germanus, C.P.)

“Come all of you to Me and fear not, for I Love you all.”

– Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez

“Fear nothing, for the Heart of Jesus is the throne of Mercy, where the miserable are the most readily received.”

– Jesus to St. Gemma Galgani (p. 54–55, Ibid.)

“I will be a mother to thee. Wilt thou be a true child?”

– Our Lady to St. Gemma Galgani (after saying this, Our Lady opened her mantle and covered her with it)

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‘The rich have wanted, and have suffered hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not be deprived of any good.’

– Psalm 34:1

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“Virtue consists above all in…”

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“… the mortification of one’s own will [Sir. 18:30].

It consists of concealing, as far as possible, from the eyes of men, the works that you do [Mt. 6:4].

The true servant of God is content to know that his services are known to the Heavenly Father.

You must prepare yourselves to receive all things, evil as well as good, with an equal resignation and even with gaiety of heart [Deut. 30:15; Phil. 4:4].

Be good, therefore, and charitable to your neighbour [Mk. 12:31];

be humble and patient in yourselves [Lk. 21:19].”

– Jesus to Bl. Anna Maria Taigi (p. 52, ‘Wife, Mother and Mystic,’ by Albert Bessieres, S.J., TAN Books)

+PAX+

Some Saintly Insights into the “Little Way”

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Servant of God, Leonie Martin (sister of St. Therese)

‘The Lord is the keeper of little ones: I was little and he delivered me.’

– Psalm 116:6

When people hear of the “Little Way,” they generally think of (Little) St. Therese. This is understandable, considering the profound role she has played, and will continue to play, in making this doctrine better known, i.e. the doctrine of confident and complete abandonment to Merciful Love.

But it is important to know that St. Therese is only one of many “little souls” (or the “littlest ones,” as she desired to be). There are a number of other “little ones,” that, like St. Therese, have much to teach us. This post is devoted to them. Let us consider their wisdom:

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“Our deeds are not the best claim to merit before God. God inspires the thought and gives the strength. Our true Title to the Divine favour is the Blood of Christ, to which we have the right through our own destitution and humbly acknowledged frailty.”

– Dom Pius de Hemptinne, d. 1907 (p. 139, ‘A Disciple of Dom Marmion’)

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+ “And to make Jesus more promptly realize my desire [to become a religious], I treated Him as a little child treats her mother until she obtains what she wants. I tormented Jesus. How weary He must have grown of hearing me! But was it not He Himself who was inspiring this ardent desire of giving myself to Him, wholly and without reserve? Did He not really wish that I should importune Him in this way?”

– Sr. Gertrude Mary, d. 1908 (An extraordinary French mystic, who has often been compared to St. Therese.)

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+  “I wish to stay small, so that I can have the audacity to believe that I will not go to Purgatory.  I ask my Jesus that He Himself prepare me for His arrival.”

– Servant of God, Leonie Martin, sister of St. Therese, d. 1941 (A few days ago, on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, and the 153rd anniversary of the birth of Leonie, my “little sister,” I was told that I will be entering the novitiate earlier than expected! Thanks, little sister!)

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“I wish to stay small, so that I can have the audacity to believe that I will not go to Purgatory.  I ask my Jesus that He Himself prepare me for His arrival.”

– Servant of God, Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos, d. 1692 (Another extraordinary French mystic!)

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“I will suffer joyously since Jesus wills it; I will not seek calm and tranquillity, but let Jesus do around me whatever He pleases. I shall be faithful to the practice of virtue, even in the smallest things; for example, I shall be silent when I wish to speak, and speak when I would like to keep silence. May Jesus bless me, guide me, and enlighten me!”

– Servant of God, Sr. Benigna Consolata, d. 1916

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“Love is the soul of every life of prayer and of every good work.”

– Ven. Concepcion Cabrera de Armida, d. 1937

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“Never let yourself be depressed by the thought of your wretchedness. The great
St. Paul said: ‘Where sin abounded, grace did more abound.’ So it seems to me that the weakest, even the most sinful person has the greatest right to hope. By forgetting self and casting herself into the arms of God, she glorifies Him more than by any self-examination and self-reproach, which keep her attention fixed on her own defects though she possesses a Saviour within her Who is always willing to purify her.”

– Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity (soon to be declared a Saint!)

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“I have only to ask; I hear the humble and trustful prayer of little ones.”

– Our Lady to Pere Lamy (p. 95, ‘Pere Lamy’)

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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!