“Many Souls Exhaust Themselves…”

This post is for the benefit of those (often scrupulous individuals) who “… strain at an ideal of virtue” (Jesus to Sr. Josefa) that God does not ask of them, and are thus left feeling overcome, despondent, discouraged, anxious, confused etc. Surely these souls are the minority (the overwhelming majority need to make more time for God!), yet this topic is rarely addressed and it is important.

God does not call us each to the same degree of sanctity:

“Many souls exhaust themselves in efforts, in acts of generosity, which leave their soul bruised an impoverished, because they strain at an ideal of virtue, of sanctity that I do not ask of them. They will be rewarded for their pure intention and their generosity, but their efforts do not produce the fruit that they would produce if they were united to My will.” – Jesus to Sr. Mary of the Trinity (no. 555)

“It must be remembered that divine requests are not the same for all souls, even when the souls are called to walk identical ways. What Jesus would ask from a cloistered nun, He wouldn’t require in same way from a nun with an active life, and even less from a person living in the world. He doesn’t even expect to get the same thing from all those who are cloistered as He did from Sr. Consolata…” – Fr. Lorenzo Sales (spiritual director of Sr. Consolata Betrone; taken from ‘The Littlest Way of Love’)

To “pray always” does not mean to perpetually engage in mental or vocal prayer:

“Doesn’t St. Paul tell us that we must sanctify even our mundane actions like eating, drinking, sleeping? Therefore, a restful moment, an honest recreation, can also be sanctified by love and thus transformed into love.” – Fr. Lorenzo Sales

St. Therese of Lisieux, “The greatest Saint of modern times” (St. Pope Pius X) was often known to simply think of God and love Him in that way. We would do well to adopt this method; at least once we have advanced in the ways of prayer- when our prayers naturally become simpler. We should not let ourselves be weighed down by an excessive amount of devotions or vocal prayers; that is, if they are unecessary and act as an impediment to our spiritual growth.

We need time for leisure:

“It is actually a defect [against prudence] to be so strict, austere and unsociable that one permits neither oneself nor others any recreation time.” – St. Francis de Sales (In III 31)

“From time to time one must recreate and relax in mind and body.” – St. Francis de Sales (In III 31)

“The teacher who is seen only in the classroom and nowhere else, is a teacher and nothing more; but let him go with his boys to recreation and he becomes a brother.” – St. John Bosco

“To take the air, to go for a stroll, to enjoy a friendly chat, to play music, or sing or hunt…are such honest diversions that the only thing needed to utilize them well is simple prudence, which gives to all things their rank, time, place and measure.” – St. Francis de Sales (In III 31)

“Games in which winning results from bodily or mental dexterity or activity… provide good relaxation and are perfectly justified.” – St. Francis de Sales (In III 31)

“Strive never to lose this supernatural outlook, not even at times of rest or recreation, which are as important in our daily lives as is work itself.” – St. Josemaria Escriva (Friends of God, 10)

“The story goes that a hunter happened upon St. John the Evangelist holding and caressing a partridge. The hunter expressed astonishment that one with so eminent a mind would waste time on so insignificant a thing. St. John answered him by posing a question: “Why is your bow not always taut?” “For fear,” replied the hunter, “that in remaining taut like that, it would have no force at all when I needed to use it.” “So, then do not be surprised,” said the Apostle, “If I rest my mind from time to time. It will be more dedicated to reflection as a result.” – St. Francis de Sales (In III 31)

The saints devoted time to leisure:

“St. Charles Borromeo, the holy 16th century archbishop of Milan, was known to relax by playing chess. Once he was asked what he would do if he were told by an angel that he would die within an hour. The saint replied that he would continue playing chess for, – even as a form of relaxation – he would had begun it for the glory of God, and he knew of nothing better than to be called from this world while performing an action for that purpose.”

“Sr. Consolata never allowed herself a voluntary absence from the communal recreations. Far from being taciturn, she showed herself to be full of life. In a few instances she composed, and even read, some poems (rhymed poetry). When the community would gather near the radio to hear the voice of the Holy Father, or to follow certain religious ceremonies, she always participated with full spiritual joy. She loved song and willingly took part. Had she been permitted, she would voluntarily have learnt the art of painting. In the parlour, with her parents or acquaintances, she was able to blend a religious reserve with easiness and amiability. She was never at a loss for spirit filled words, especially when it became necessary to recover discourses that were taking dangerous turns, etc.” Fr. Lorenzo Sales

Furthermore, Sr. Benigna painted, St. Therese performed in plays, St. Teresa and her “sisters” engaged in leisurely activities (such as singing) daily, Bl. Dina wrote and performed music, Ven. Fulton Sheen was an avid reader etc.

Doing God’s will is the greatest prayer:

“Never lose sight of the fact that the Jesus whom you behold dying on the Cross at the end of His mortal career, is the same Jesus who for thirty years shared the life which is common to all men, in the bosom of His own family; and He is the same Jesus who all during His three years’ ministry sat down to table with men and joined in their banquets. And Jesus was holy, Consolata, the holiest of all men!” – Jesus to Sr. Consolata Betrone

If we have been lazy and ungrateful, Jesus can repair our past:

“Should it happen that you have spent the greater part of your life in impiety and indifference, and that the sudden approach of the hour of death fills you with blinding despair… Oh! do not let yourself be deceived, for there is still time for pardon. If only one second of life remains to you, in that one second you can buy back eternal life!” – Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez

The Key To Spiritual Joy

“Love Me, and you will be happy; and the more you love Me, the happier you will be! Even when you find yourself in utter darkness, love will produce light, love will produce strength, and love will produce joy!” – Jesus to Sr. Consolata Betrone

Before proceeding, it is necessary that we understand the following: joy, a fruit of love, can only be received (and cultivated) by the humble, as everything good we have is a gift from God. We are called to be saints first and foremost, and nothing less. LOVE “… is all our hearts were made for” (St. Therese); therefore:

We will never attain joy unless we love; we cannot love unless we first receive it; and we cannot receive God’s love unless we are HUMBLE.

If we are miserable, we should humbly ask God for the grace to see what is making us so. The small pamphlet, ‘Confession – A Little Book For the Reluctant’ by Msgr. Louis Gaston de Segur, is a very helpful resource for destroying many of the barriers to spiritual joy, such as pride, discouragement, intentionally withholding (serious) sins in Confession, doubting God’s mercy and goodness (which is “absolutely unlimited”), infrequent Confession, presumption etc. If you are scrupulous, lukewarm (or both), or a habitual sinner- whether or not your disposition stems from pride and/or ignorance- you should read this ‘book.’ A crucial element of humility is that we know the truth about sin. If we do not recognise its danger and gravity (most people do not, sadly… the saints surely did and they were full of humility, confidence, love and gratitude!), how will we appreciate just how merciful God truly is; or how foolish we are in delaying repentance; or giving up the battle for holiness; or acting in countless other ways that reek of pride, which is directly opposed to God’s nature, and which we should always seek to avoid far more than any bodily illness?! Fortunately, there is no need to despair. God’s goodness and mercy are without limit to those who (sincerely) repent! The greater the depths of darkness and error that He (alone) has drawn us from, the greater right we have to count on His unchanging goodness! How consoling is that! How can we not love such a God with all our hearts?

(The previous words were necessary in order to establish the fact of our great need for humility (which is linked to confidence)- the first link in the chain of love… “True humility consists in not presuming on our own strength, but in trusting to obtain all things from the power of God.” – St. Thomas Aquinas)

“SPIRITUAL JOY ARISES FROM PURITY OF THE HEART AND PERSEVERANCE IN PRAYER.” – St. Francis of Assisi

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Some words, then, on purity:

“Purity is the fruit of prayer.” – Bl. Mother Teresa

“Nothing is so beautiful as a pure soul… Purity comes from heaven; we must ask for it from God. If we ask for it, we shall obtain it. We must take great care not to lose it. We must shut our heart against pride, against sensuality, and all the other passions, as one shuts the doors and windows that nobody may be able to get in. What joy it is to the guardian angel to conduct a pure soul!…The more pure we have been on earth, the nearer we shall be to Him in heaven…My children, we cannot comprehend the power that a pure soul has over the good God.” – St. John Vianney

“Holy Purity, the queen of virtues, the angelic virtue, is a jewel so precious that those who possess it become like the angels of God in heaven, even though clothed in mortal flesh.” – St. John Bosco

“Jesus more and more desires a throne of pure gold and this throne is your pure heart… Yes, Jesus wishes to make a palace in your heart.” – St. Therese

“With all the strength of my soul I urge you young people to approach the Communion table as often as you can. Feed on this bread of angels whence you will draw all the energy you need to fight inner battles. Because true happiness, dear friends, does not consist in the pleasures of the world or in earthly things, but in peace of conscience, which we have only if we are pure in heart and mind.” – Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati (According to St. Philip Neri, for example, the Holy Eucharist is necessary strength in the battle for purity, which is necessary for communing with God! “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God!”)

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 “If all My betrothed would love Me, I would pour Heaven into their hearts even while they still dwelt upon the earth, for Heaven is enjoyed by loving Me!” – Jesus to Sr. Consolata Betrone

“The more you love Me, the more you will become holy.” – Jesus to Sr. Consolata Betrone (“If you want to be happy, be holy. If you want to be very happy be very holy.” – St.Francis Xavier Seelos)

“Only that which is eternal can satisfy us.” – St. Therese

“Because I am Love, all Love, I cannot cease communicating to My creatures the joy of loving! The joy of sharing My happiness.” – Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez

“The only happiness here below is to strive to be always content with what Jesus gives us.” – St. Therese

“Your joy is to strip yourselves and be dependent on Me alone. My joy is to be able to prove to you the prodigality of My love.” – Jesus to Sr. Mary of the Trinity

“When suffering is accepted with love, it is no longer suffering, but it is changed into joy.” – St. Therese

“If we want to enjoy interior peace, it is necessary to have one will and one desire: to love Jesus crucified, employing all our faculties and energies for this purpose.” – St. Francis de Sales

“I have united Myself so closely to thee, by the chains of My love, that I cannot live happily without thee.” – Jesus to St. Gertrude (Similarly, Jesus, in taking on a sinless human heart- the most tender of all hearts!- makes Himself in need of our love! He even yearns for our love and salvation! Bl. John Paul II calls this one of the GREAT mercies of God).

Some advice on growing in love: “Keep correcting some fault in yourself, but do not do this through coercion but through love…. Without doubt the Lord will supply what is missing to keep you close to Him, so long as for your part you love Him alone and seek to follow Him alone… As soon as you are conscious of being tempted, follow the example of children when they see a wolf or a bear out in the country. They immediately run to the arms of their father or mother, or at least call to them for help and protection. In the same way, turn to God and implore His mercy and help” – St. Francis de Sales

“In order to be Christian, our lives must be a continual renunciation and sacrifice. However, we know that the difficulties of this world are nothing compared to the eternal happiness that awaits us, where there will be no limit to our joy, no end to our happiness, and we shall enjoy unimaginable peace. And so, young people, learn from our Lord Jesus Christ the meaning of sacrifice.” – Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati

“Ah, if you understood! How happy each soul could be in My intimacy! That pettinesses that blind you would, of themselves, disappear in this ever-growing quest for Love…”

– Jesus to Sr. Mary of the Trinity

Prayer: “A Key Opening GOD’S HEART”

“… do not grow tired nor fear to be importunate, for prayer is the key that opens every door.”

– Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez

The holy man of prayer and suffering, St. Padre Pio, said: “Prayer is the best weapon we have. It is a key opening God’s Heart.” Similarly, St. Augustine said: “Prayer is the key to Heaven.” St. Alphonsus reminds us that we must pray.

The purpose of this ‘article’ is to fill you with an ongoing desire for prayer, which will continue to grow and inflame your heart with love the more you pray. We must always remember that prayer is not only an immense gift, “a treasure” (St. Alphonsus), something “… we have not deserved” (St. John Vianney), but also that prayer is: our duty, for our own good, for God’s glory, for the salvation of souls, for peace, and for every other good thing that comes from God ALONE.

There are countless stories in the Bible and the lives of the saints about the power of prayer: miracles, the conversion of countless sinners, resurrections, miraculous cures, the release of thousands of souls from Purgatory… Christians in particular have the great responsibility of asking their Heavenly Father to supply for their own needs and the needs of their brothers and sisters, Christian or not. As the Mystical Body of Christ, we simply MUST pray as did our divine Model, Jesus Christ.

(This ‘article’ is too short to possibly explain (in any detail) how to pray well; for this I recommend none other than the great classic, ‘The Ways of Mental Prayer’ by Vital Lehodey. This book contains the wisdom of many saints and masters of prayer, such as St. Teresa of Avila and St. Bernard. Their wisdom, which was acquired through much prayer, will greatly assist yours’. Listen to the words of St. Teresa: “The devil knows that he has lost the soul that perseveringly practices mental prayer.”)

*Please ask God for the grace to love prayer and to love Him! Otherwise, all this reading will not do you much good.*

The PURPOSE OF PRAYER:

“The fruit and the purpose of prayer is to be one with and like God in all things.” –  Bl. Julian of Norwich

Prayer is NECESSARY (for growing in virtue, doing God’s will etc.):

“The body is nourished by material food, and the interior man by prayer.” – St. Augustine

“The air which we breathe, the bread which we eat, the heart which throbs in our bosoms, are not more necessary for man that he may live as a human being, than is prayer for the Christian that he may live as a Christian.” – St. John Eudes

“We need to be able to pray. We need prayer just like we need air. Without prayer, we can do nothing.” – Bl. Mother Teresa

“Prayer is the oxygen of the soul.” – St. Padre Pio

“It is simply impossible to lead, without prayer, a virtuous life.” – St. John Chrysostom

“Let him never cease from prayer who has once begun it, be his life ever so wicked; for prayer is the way to amend it, and without prayer such amendment will be much more difficult.” – St. Teresa of Avila

“How often I failed in my duty to God, because I was not leaning on the strong pillar of prayer.” – St. Teresa of Avila

“Without prayer I could not work for even half an hour. I get my strength from God through prayer.” – Bl. Mother Teresa

“The more you are tempted, the more you must persevere in prayer.” – Bl. Angela of Foligno

“It is impossible for a person who prays regularly to remain in serious sin; because the two are incompatible, one or the other will have to be given up.” – St. Teresa of Avila

Prayer is DELIGHTFUL:

“Prayer is a foretaste of Heaven, an overflow of Paradise. It never leaves us without sweetness…Troubles melt away before a fervent prayer like snow before the sun.” – St. John Vianney

“Prayer is a wine which makes glad the heart of man.”St. Bernard

“Pray to God; God is your friend and your dear friend. God is alive.” – St. Padre Pio

“My children, your heart is poor and narrow; but prayer enlarges it, and renders it capable of loving God.” – St. John Vianney

“Troubles melt away before a fervent prayer like snow before the sun.” St. John Vianney

“Francis used to say, “If you, O servant of God, are upset, for any reason whatever, you should immediately rise up to prayer, and you should remain in the presence of the Most High Father for as long as it takes for Him to restore to you the joy of your salvation.” -Thomas of Celano

“Because the eyes of the Lord are upon the just, and his ears unto their prayers.” 1 Peter 3:12 (How happy we would be to communicate with our favourite actor or musician, or writer. Well, in prayer we communicate with God, the Blessed Virgin, the saints!)

Prayer PLEASES GOD:

“By prayer man gives God the greatest glory possible.” – St. Peter Julian Eymard

“Our prayer is an incense which he receives with extreme pleasure.” – St. John Vianney

“Pray to the Lord because even God needs our prayers.” – St. Padre Pio (God uses our prayers and sufferings to save souls and to shower graces on the world.)

“God waits for us to ask Him, and even inspires us to ask for His help.” – St. Pascal Baylon

“He would not urge us to ask unless He was willing to give.” – St. Augustine

“… when we ask graces of God, He not only hears us, but in a certain sense thanks us.” – St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi

“… God, as the infinite goodness, in wishing to pour out Himself upon others, has, so to speak, an infinite longing to distribute his gifts; but He wishes to be besought: hence it follows, that when He sees Himself entreated by a soul, He receives so much pleasure, that in a certain sense He thanks that soul for it.” – St. Alphonsus Liguori

Prayer is a great GIFT:

“We have not deserved to pray; but God, in his goodness, has permitted us to speak to him.” – St. John Vianney (Please ask God for the grace to realise the profound truth of these words)

Prayer is “… man’s greatest virtue.” – St. Peter Julian Eymard

“He who prays most receives most.” – St. Alphonsus

“Our Lord gives to souls of prayer a deep understanding of Himself. He never deceives them.” – St. Peter Julian Eymard

OTHERS NEED OUR PRAYERS:

“Pray, pray to the Lord with me, because the whole world needs prayer.” – St. Padre Pio

Prayer is POWERFUL:

“The power of prayer is really tremendous.” St. Therese

“God being willing to give us all we want, we ought always to pray with entire confidence.” – St. Pascal Baylon

“Prayer is stronger than all the demons.” – St. Bernard

“When prayer is poured forth, sins are covered.” – St. Ambrose

HOW TO PRAY POWERFULLY:

“We ought always to pray and not to faint.” – (Luke 18:1)

“I have discovered how to pray in an extremely efficacious manner. The Heart of Jesus is also my heart since I am a member of His body and with this Heart I will pray to God, my Father, and my prayer will always be heard.” – St. Katherine Mary Drexel (this method of prayer has been practised by many great saints, and even encouraged by Our Lord to Sr. Josefa Menendez)

“The sacred gift of prayer is in the right hand of our Saviour, and according to the measure that you empty yourself of yourself, that is of love of your senses and of your own will, and make progress in rooting yourself in holy humility, to that extent the Lord will speak to your heart.” – St. Padre Pio

The ROSARY IS THE MOST POWERFUL PRAYER (apart from the Mass):

“Of all prayers the Rosary is the most beautiful and the richest in graces; of all it is the one which is most pleasing to Mary, the Virgin Most Holy. Therefore, love the Rosary and recite it every day with devotion: this is the testament which I leave unto you so that you may remember me by it.” – St. Pius X (Who St. Padre Pio called the holiest Pope since St. Peter!)

“The Rosary is the weapon.” – St. Padre Pio

“Hail Mary is the most beautiful of prayers after the Our Father & the most beautiful compliment you can give to Mary.” – St. Louis de Montfort

“When the Holy Rosary is said well, it gives Jesus and Mary more glory and is more meritorious than any other prayer.” – St. Louis de Montfort

“There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot solve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.” – Sister Lucia (one of the seers of Fatima, and an obedient child of the Church, d. 2005)

“Say the Rosary every day.” – Our Lady of Fatima (who asked us to pray the Rosary each of the six times she appeared at Fatima)

We MUST PRAY WITH CONFIDENCE:

“Let us pray and continue to pray, because intense and fervent prayer pierces the heavens and is backed up by a Divine guarantee.” – St. Padre Pio

“What have we to fear? It is love that calls us; love that gives all; love that provides all, will accomplish all; love that can wish only what is good for us. Impossible, then, to respond to love otherwise than by confidence. And since it is boundless love that invites us, let us respond also by a boundless confidence.” – Rev. Andre Prevot

Some words of encouragement:

“Do not distress yourself about your prayers. It is not always necessary to employ words, even inwardly, it is enough to raise your heart and let it rest on our Lord, to look lovingly up toward this divine Lover of our souls for between lovers the eyes speak more eloquently than the tongue.” – St. Francis de Sales

“Pray with your whole being even though you think it has no savour for you. For such prayer is very profitable even though you feel nothing, though you see nothing, even though it seems impossible to you. It is in dryness and barrenness, in sickness and feebleness that your prayer is most pleasing to me, even though you think that it has little savour for you.” – Jesus to Bl. Julian of Norwich

“It is better to say one Pater Noster (‘Our Father’) fervently and devoutly than a thousand with no devotion and full of distraction.” – St. Edmund

Beautiful Words of Our Lord to Sr. Josefa Menendez

**I have added some very useful quotes to my post ‘An Infallible Cure for Scrupulosity’ e.g. about how to differentiate between thinking and willing (this post can be found on the right hand side of the page under ‘Archives’, ‘August 2012’. Also, I apologise that this post is not about prayer, as I mentioned earlier. I haven’t yet had time to construct it.**

“My appeal is addressed to all: to those consecrated in religion and those living in the world, to the good and to sinners, to the learned and the illiterate, to those in authority and to those who obey. To each of them I come to say: if you seek happiness you will find it in Me. If riches, I am infinite wealth. If you desire peace, in Me alone is peace found. I am Mercy and Love! and I must be sovereign King.”

“Yes, in spite of its miseries, a soul can love Me to folly . . . But realize that I am speaking only of faults of frailty and inadvertence, not of willed sin or voluntary infidelity. Offer your life, imperfect as it is, that all My chosen souls may realize the beautiful mission that they can carry out through their ordinary actions and in their daily struggles. Let them never forget that I have preferred them to so many others, not because of their goodness, but because of their wretchedness . . . I am all love, and that flame in Me consumes all their weakness. I will again tell you the secrets of My Heart . . . But the desire which consumes Me is ever the same: It is that souls may know My Heart better and better.” (October 20, 1922).

“Come . . . enter My Heart. How easy it is for a mere nothing to lose itself in that abyss of love. That is how I will consume your littleness and nothingness. I will act through you, speak through you, and make Myself known through you. How many will find life in My words! How many will take new courage as they understand the fruit to be drawn from their efforts! A little act of generosity, of patience, of poverty . . . may become treasure that will win a great number of souls to My Heart . . .” (August 7, 1922)

“I do not look at the act itself, I look at the intention. The smallest act, if done out of love, acquires such merit that it gives Me immense consolation . . . I want only love, I ask for nothing else.” (September 8, 1922)

“I so much want souls to understand this! It is not the action in itself that is of value; it is the intention with which it is done. When I swept and labored in the workshop of Nazareth, I gave as much glory to My Father as when I preached during My Public Life. There are many souls who in the eyes of the world fill important posts and they give My Heart great glory; this is true. But I have many hidden souls who in their humble labors are very useful workers in My vineyard, for they are moved by love, and they know how to cover their deeds with supernatural gold by bathing them in My Blood. My love goes so far that My souls can draw great treasure out of mere nothing. When as soon as they wake they unite themselves to Me and offer their whole day with a burning desire that My Heart may use it for the profit of souls.”

“I do not say that by the fact of My choice, a soul is freed from her faults and wretchedness. That soul may and will fall often again, but if she humbles herself, if she recognizes her nothingness, if she tries to repair her faults by little acts of generosity and love, if she confides and surrenders herself once more to My Heart . . . she gives Me more glory and can do more good to other souls, than if she had never fallen. Miseries and weaknesses are of no consequence, what I do ask of them is love.”

“Write for My souls: The soul who constantly unites her life with Mine glorifies Me and does a great work for souls. Thus, if engaged in work of no value in itself . . . if she bathes it in My Blood or unites it to the work I Myself did during My mortal life, it will greatly profit souls . . . more perhaps, than if she had preached to the whole world . . . and that, whether she studies, speaks or writes . . . whether she sews, sweeps or rests . . . provided first that the act is sanctioned by obedience or duty and not done from mere caprice; secondly: that it is done in intimate union with Me, with great purity of intention and covered with My Blood.”

“. . when with love they perform their duties, hour by hour and moment by moment . . . How great is the treasure they amass in one day! I will reveal My love to them more and more . . . it is inexhaustible and how easy it is for a loving soul to let itself be guided by Love.” (November 30, 1922).

My Heart is all love and it embraces all souls, but how can I make My chosen souls understand My special love for them and how I wish to use them to save sinners and so many souls who are exposed to the perils of the world? For this reason 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 . . . and how great is the value of a divinized day! 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 . . . let her then come to My Heart to revive her courage . . . Let her offer Me her dejection, and unite it to My fervor; then she may rest content, for her day will be of incomparable value to souls. All human miseries are known to My Heart, and My compassion for them is great.”

“But I desire souls to unite themselves to Me not only in a general way. I long for this union to be constant and intimate, as it is between friends who live together: for even if they are not talking all the time, at least they look at each other, and their mutual affectionate little kindnesses are the fruit of their love.”

“When a soul is in peace and consolation, doubtless it is easier for her to think of Me, but if she is in the throes of desolation and anguish, she need not fear. I am content with a glance. I understand, and this mere look will draw down on her special proofs of My tenderness. I will repeat again to souls how My Heart loves them . . . for I want them to know Me thoroughly, that they may make Me known to those I place in their care. I ardently desire My chosen souls to fix their eyes on Me, and never turn them away . . . and among them there should be no mediocrity which usually is the result of a misunderstanding of My love. No! it is neither difficult nor hard to love My Heart, but on the contrary, it is sweet and easy. They need do nothing extraordinary to attain to a high degree of love: purity of intention, be the action great or small . . . intimate union with My Heart, and love will do the rest.” (December 2, 1922).

“Yes, I am that Jesus who loves souls tenderly . . . Behold this Heart that never ceases calling them, guarding them, and caring for them . . . Behold this Heart on fire with longing for their love, but especially for the love of My chosen ones.”

“Love transforms their most ordinary actions and gives them an infinite value, but it does more: My Heart loves My chosen souls so tenderly, that I wish to use their miseries, their weaknesses, and often even their faults. Souls that see themselves overwhelmed with miseries, attribute nothing good to themselves, and their very abjectness clothes them with a certain humility that they would not have if they saw themselves to be less imperfect. When therefore in the course of apostolic work or in the carrying out of duties, a consciousness of their incapacity is forced upon them . . . or when they experience a kind of repugnance to helping souls towards perfection to which they know themselves to be still strangers, such souls are compelled to humble themselves in the dust, and should this self-knowledge impel them to My feet, asking pardon for their halting efforts, begging of My Heart the strength and courage they need, it is hardly possible for them to conceive how lovingly My Heart goes out to them and how marvellously fruitful I will make their labors. Those whose generosity is not equal to these daily endeavors and sacrifices will see their lives go by full only of promise which never comes to fruition.”

“… But there are others, and it is of them I now speak, who begin their day with a very good will and desire to prove their love. They pledge themselves to self-denial or generosity in this or that circumstance . . . But when the time comes they are prevented by self-love, temperament, health, or I know not what, from carrying out what a few hours before they quite sincerely purposed to do. Nevertheless they speedily acknowledge their weakness and, filled with shame, beg for pardon, humble themselves, and renew their promise . . . Ah! Let them know that these souls please Me as much as if they had nothing with which to reproach themselves.” (December 12, 1922).

“I want to forgive. I want to reign over souls and pardon all nations. I want to rule souls, nations, the whole world. My peace must be extended over the entire universe, but in a special way over this dear country [France] where devotion to My Heart first took root . . . O that I might be its peace, its life, its King. I am Wisdom and Beatitude! I am Love and Mercy! I am Peace, I shall reign! I will shower My mercies on the world to wipe out its ingratitude. To make reparation for its crimes, I will choose victims who will obtain pardon . . . for there are in the world many whose desire is to please Me . . . and there are moreover generous souls who will sacrifice everything they possess, that I may use them according to My will and good pleasure. My reign will be one of peace and love and I shall inaugurate it by compassion on all: such is the end I have in view, and this is the great work of My love.”

Three ESSENTIAL Spiritual Principles!

Now I will briefly explain the three spiritual principles that were introduced in the previous post:

1. GOD ALWAYS ACTS ACCORDING TO HIS NATURE: LOVE.

2. WITHOUT God we can do NOTHING. (John 15:5)

3. WITH God we can do ALL THINGS. (Philippians 4:13)

1. “Everything is a grace, everything is the direct effect of our Father’s Love — difficulties, contradictions, humiliations, all the soul’s miseries, her burdens, her needs — everything, because through them, she learns humility, realizes her weakness — everything is a grace because everything is God’s gift. Whatever be the character of life or its unexpected events — to the heart that loves, all is well.” – St. Therese of Lisieux

“All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth, to them that seek after his covenant and his testimonies.” (Psalm 25:10)

“And we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints.” (Romans 8:28)

Everything that we experience in life is a part of God’s loving Providence. Therefore, we can and should be grateful for everything! Not easy is it! But through prayer, God’s grace can achieve this. Certainly there are many things in the world (and within ourselves) that are not as they ought to be, but we must not give up on that account. God alone can fix these things and He requires our heart, our co-operation and our confidence: “Wherein lies the limit of My power over you? In your confidence.” (Jesus to Sr. Mary of the Trinity). We would do well to ask God every day for the grace of boundless confidence (see my post, ‘Prayer to Obtain the Grace of Boundless Confidence’). Remember that we will still have to fight courageously against sin and temptation. Often we fall into discouragement because we rely too much on our own strength. If we only persevered in trust we would not become discouraged so easily, having the assurance that victory is on our side (of course, we will still fall sometimes; only a special grace from God can keep us from all sin).

2. /3. “Indeed, our impotence (helplessness) is radical. ‘Without Me you can do nothing,’ says Our Saviour. In the supernatural order, this impotence is absolute. Heed well the teachings of the theologians. Without grace, man cannot observe the commandments of God for a long time or in their totality. Without grace, he cannot resist all the temptations, sometimes so violent, that assault him. Without grace, we cannot have a good thought (2 Corinthians 3:5); we cannot even make the shortest prayer; without it, we cannot even invoke with piety the holy name of Jesus. Everything that we do in the supernatural order comes to us from God alone. Even in the natural order, it is still God who gives us victory.” – Fr. Thomas de Saint-Laurent

The implications of this teaching are so great, so consoling, so beautiful, and so humbling that I cannot do it justice! If we are tempted to judge our neighbour, for example, let us remember, ‘Without Me you can do nothing’ (we would be abysses of sin and misery without the gift of God’s grace); if we have the desire to be a saint but fear that we have ‘missed’ our opportunity, let us remember, ‘Without Me you can do nothing’ (“… God would not inspire unattainable desires; I can, then, in spite of my littleness, aspire to sanctity.” – St. Therese; “Do not be afraid! Jesus has given you the desire to be good. He will help you”. – St. Francis de Sales); if we fear that God would reject our sincere desire to love Him, let us remember, ‘Without Me you can do nothing’ (“The desire to love is love.” – St. Pio; repentance is a grace from God; “… they cannot then despair, since Thy paternal call is followed by so much mercy.” – St. Mechtilde); if we are overcome by severe temptations, let us remember, ‘Without Me you can do nothing’ (“… God is faithful and will not allow you to be tempted beyond your strength” – 1 Corinthians 10:13); if we have fallen thousands of times into sin, but wish to amend our lives, let us remember, ‘Without Me you can do nothing’ (we would not have this desire if it were not for God, and God does not deceive). Let us, therefore, cultivate a profound distrust of self, and a boundless trust in God!

Hopefully it is now clear to you why the truth about our absolute impotence/helplessness is so important for us to grasp, and so helpful in the battle against discouragement. Why else would St. Paul have exclaimed, “When I am weak then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12: 10); why would St. Therese have said, “It is my weakness that gives me all my strength”; why would Bl. Dina Belanger have said, “I am penetrated with my nothingness, I feel myself poor, weak, and powerless. But because of this, my confidence in Jesus is like a shoreless ocean, engulfing the abyss of my misery”?

That is it: the knowledge of our own weakness and misery should inspire us with distrust of self, trust in God, gratitude for God’s infinite kindness, love, confidence… treasures of infinite value! These treasures must be sought through prayer, first and foremost.*

Here are some quotes to help you better appreciate and discover these treasures:

“My grace will never fail you.” – Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez

“If thou wouldst please Me, trust in Me; if thou wouldst please Me more, trust still more; if thou wouldst please Me immensely, trust in Me immensely; but thy trust can never equal the desire of My Heart. An act of confidence pleases Me so much because it honours My dearest attributes: goodness and Mercy.” – Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata

[Regarding the words, ‘Without Me you can do nothing’]: “This is for you the most comforting saying in the Gospel, because it excuses all your weaknesses and throws you in complete abandonment upon the Heart of God. There, dissolved in a single act of love, you may ask what you will, and it will be granted you!” – Jesus to Sr. Consolata Betrone

“I know that Jesus is in me – it is he who does everything in me: I do nothing.” – St. Therese (Of course, this does not mean that grace will do everything for us; we must fight.)

“I can do nothing alone; my own will, however hard I exert it, does not suffice; my own plans, however astutely and systematically devised, all fail. So, there is nothing for me to do but to hand myself over to God, truly and wholly, so that he may use, or for that matter, in his wisdom not use, whatever capacity I possess to serve him.” – St. Francis de Sales

“Do not reflect on your helplessness; My Heart is powerful enough to sustain you. It is yours; take from it all you need.” – Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez

“I can refuse nothing to one who relies entirely on Me. Souls are too little conscious of how much I want to help them and how much I am glorified by their trust.” – Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez

“I require nothing of you beyond what is already yours.” – Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez

“Trust always in Jesus! If only you knew how much pleasure that gives Me. Grant me this solace to trust in Me even in the shadow of death.” – Jesus to Sr. Consolata Betrone

“You are astonished that often an effort that seemed impossible to make, instead of exhausting, strengthens you. It is not astonishing, it is true: I never allow Myself to be outdone by generosity… Many souls deprive themselves of many graces because they refuse to make efforts which seem impossible to them, which are only offered to the generosity of their initiative.” – Jesus to Sr. Mary of the Trinity

*If I could recommend one book to Christians/Catholics, it would probably be ‘The Ways of Mental Prayer’ by Vital Lehodey. Not only will it re-iterate what I have written, but it will teach you many other sublime truths, such as about how to pray well, how to obtain many graces, and how to progress through the initial stages of prayer to contemplation. I assure you that to pray well is to live well, and to live well is to die well. Please purchase this book and read it many times!

(My next post will be on prayer).

Overcoming Discouragement and Despondency (part 2)

–This post is quite lengthy, but when the ideas contained within it are properly understood, the affect on our lives will be profound and potentially life-changing (as it has been for me) —

In the previous post I said that I would provide a key to understanding the insights provided i.e. a key to overcoming discouragement.  Firstly, it is necessary to include a word about trials and God’s justice. Without this understanding we are likely to fall prey to discouragement and ingratitude, which often stem from ignorance (this can be remedied or prevented to a large degree by prayer, spiritual reading and meditation). (The book ‘Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence’ will surely help you to see that everything God wills or permits is for our benefit).

We must not deceive ourselves- the road to perfection and eternal happiness is marked with temptation and suffering. But that should be no reason for discouragement- they are there for own good (e.g. to acquire virtue, to show love of God, or to share in His precious gift of the Cross). A single act of love, for example, suffices to merit for us a reward that will be enjoyed eternally! Thus it could be said that the value of an act of love infinitely surpasses the value of any created good or earthly pleasure! Do we really believe this? Do we value love and virtue as much as we should? Let us beg God for this grace!

The following words- rather than inciting fear- should prevent confusion or presumption, such as that which stems from the belief that all are saved automatically, thus rendering suffering useless and cruel, rather than a necessary part of God’s loving Providence, which desires not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked should turn from his ways, and live (Hebrews 12:6; Ezekiel 18:23):

“The sinner would like God to be merciful without being just, but this is impossible… such… would not be goodness, but a lack of justice.” – St. Alphonsus Liguori

“God is not the Father of Judgement, but only the Father of Mercy, and punishment comes from our own selves.” – St. Bernard

Put simply: God is not indifferent to evil (which affects every being in some way). No, God is Love. Love must necessarily be opposed to evil. Even when God punishes, He acts from love (Hebrews 12:6). We must believe this firmly, keeping in mind that sin- an infinite offence- is the worst evil, and that God wants to save us from its effects. Only God truly knows the nature and gravity of sin; as created, finite beings we cannot fully comprehend it. We must never believe that God is unjust or unfair (this is impossible). With this truth in mind, let us always be full of gratitude towards God Who is so merciful towards sinners! Even if you had committed every sin imaginable, God would still love you (see my earlier posts if you doubt this); it is up to us to respond to God’s grace, remembering the following words of Our Lord:

“Consolata, you must never forget that I always am, and love to be, kind and merciful towards My creatures.” – Jesus to Sr. Consolata Betrone

“I seek nothing so much as to exercise Mercy continually.” – Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata Ferrero

God only distributes justice when He is bound to do so:

“If only you knew how I suffer when I must dispense justice. You see, My Heart needs to be comforted; It wishes to dispense mercy, not justice!” – Jesus to Sr. Consolata Betrone

“The door of My Justice… is shut and locked; and I open it only to him who compels Me to do so; but I never open it spontaneously… To exercise Justice is for Me to go against the current; it does violence to Me.” – Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata Ferrero

We must have blind trust in God’s loving Providence, which is never harsh, but always compassionate: “Everything comes from love; all is ordained for the salvation of man. God does nothing without this goal in mind.” (St. Catherine of Siena). As the Mystical Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27), we can expect to undergo similar sufferings to our Divine Master- the Divine Model which we must imitate: Jesus Christ Himself. Is this a reason to get discouraged? No! We must see this as an immense privilege! After all, suffering “… is a medicine for salvation”, “… the greatest gift God could bestow on His Elect on earth”, “a kiss that Jesus hanging from the cross bestows on persons whom He loves in a special way”, “a great favour” (St. Augustine; St. Louis de Montfort; St. Bonaventure; St. Teresa).

Regardless of what we experience in life- whether it be suffering, scruples, the death of a loved one, or dryness in prayer- we must submit to God’s incomprehensible, wise and infinitely-loving plans. Such trust gives great glory to God and it is intrinsic to our happiness and salvation. Distrust of God closes our hearts and wounds His most tender Heart, which thirsts for our love!

It is very important for us- through prayer, meditation and spiritual reading- to fix in our hearts and minds the promises of God, the love and mercy of God, the value of an act of love, the graces that He has given us, the graces that He wishes to give us etc. In a word, everything that will inspire us with love, gratitude, humility, confidence etc. This is a lifelong effort. Once you have committed to doing this you are ready to hear the (or at least ONE) key to overcoming discouragement; to growing in love of God; to fulfilling God’s will and thus attaining to happiness and salvation. Here it is, in the form of three principles (just think three/Trinity):

1. GOD ALWAYS ACTS ACCORDING TO HIS NATURE: LOVE.

2. WITHOUT God we can do NOTHING. (John 15:5)

3. WITH God we can do ALL THINGS. (Philippians 4:13)

(I will explain these principles in the following post, which will be uploaded within a few hours at the most).