Jesus Christ, the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Rev. 18:19), is infinitely rich and generous; nothing and no one can exhaust the treasures of His Sacred Heart. But we must avail ourselves of these precious graces.
“My Heart is overflowing on all sides. It can no longer contain all the graces that souls unceasingly repel. Take them, My child, take them.”
– Jesus to Sr. Gertrude Mary (Dec. 26, 1906, from ‘Divine Communications,’ vol. I, Rev. Auguste Saudreau)
God always makes the first move; we never seek Him without the previous inspiration of grace. ‘You have not chosen me: but I have chosen you.’ (John 15:16) “There,” writes G.K. Chesterton, “is the great lesson of ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ that a thing must be loved before it is lovable.” ‘Let us therefore love God, because God first hath loved us.’ (1 John 4:19)
He wishes to establish His most gentle reign in each and every one of our hearts, which are infinitely precious to Him, more precious than any earthly kingdom – not because there is a deficiency in God, but because of His pure love, a love that seeks only to communicate goodness and joy to the beloved.
Almighty God, Who is the Divine Husbandmen, reveals His love for us by stripping us of all that could be an impediment to His Divine action within us. Because of our frailty, our sinful attachments, and our wavering faith, this is often a painful process. But God is all-wise, all-good and all-powerful; He knows what He is doing, and He alone can bring it about. It is only reasonable, then, to practice abandonment. To offer ourselves to One so good is an incalculable gain – even when, or especially when, we feel the sting. ‘As it hath pleased the Lord, so is it done. Blessed be the name of the Lord!’ (Job 1:21)
Here, then, are some simple, albeit powerful, ways to grow in love:
(1) Draw Riches from the Treasury of the Sacred Heart
Imitate St. Mechtilde, St. Gertrude and many others, by offering to God His own love and merits to supply for what was is wanting to you.
The same goes for offering God the love and merits of the saints and angels, all of which can be drawn from the Saviour’s Adorable Heart. ‘And all My things are thine, and thine are Mine; and I am glorified in them’ (John. 17:10).
If we are all His, He is all ours. ‘I to my Beloved, and my Beloved to me, who feedeth among the lilies’ (Cant. of Cant. 6:3).
- Offer the Rosary in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Blessed Fruit of her womb, by uniting it to all the Masses said throughout the world, to the Angelic Salutation of St. Gabriel, to the greeting of St. Elizabeth, and to the perfect love that drew God from Heaven to Earth.
- Unite your every action, thought, heartbeat, breath etc., to the Sacred Heart and to all the love that animated Our Lady and the Saints.
- In preparation for receiving the Adorable Eucharist, offer God the fervent love with which the Saints received Him, as well as His own perfect love in giving Himself to us.
- Offer the infinite love and perfect obedience of Jesus to God the Father, in thanksgiving for every grace that He has ever given any of His creatures, or that He has ever desired to give (but has been impeded from doing so due to our obstinacy). Does a parent not deserve to be thanked for the gifts that they desire to bestow on their children, even when the children do not accept them? [The fruits of this practice are immense]
“When thou shalt offer Me to God the Father for the joy and glory of the Saints, their happiness and recompense shall be increased, as though they had received Me corporally on the earth.” (A beautiful and extremely powerful way to honour the Saints, and to honour God in His Saints!)
– Jesus to St. Mechtilde (‘The Love of the Sacred Heart’)
Love alone gives our actions value; souls are not saved and God is not glorified, save by charity. Aspirations are an easy way to keep the fire of love burning in our hearts. We were created to love God; all else is false, empty, vain, a precious waste of precious time.
I have written about aspirations before:
“If I knew I should receive £1 for each one [aspiration] I made, I would not waste a spare moment. And yet I get infinitely more than this, though I often fail to realise it.”
“This morning I lay awake powerless to over come myself and to make my promised visit to the chapel. Then I felt prompted to pray; I said five aspirations and rose without difficulty. How many victories I could win by this easy and powerful weapon!”
– Fr. William Doyle (d. 1917)
(3) Spiritual Communions
Many Saints highly recommend this practice. St. Francis de Sales made a spiritual Communion every fifteen minutes or so; Sr. Benigna Consolata, a spiritual daughter of St. Francis de Sales, was told by Our Lord to make them even more frequently.
St. Alphonsus tells us that Jesus appeared to a certain pious soul, showing her two precious vases, one gold, the other silver. “In the golden vessel,” He said, “I keep sacramental Communion, and in the silver vessel spiritual Communion.” (‘Visits to the Blessed Sacrament,’ TAN)
And to Blessed Jane of the Cross, our Saviour spoke these enlightening words: “As often as you make a spiritual Communion I send you a grace which is in a measure similar to the grace which I grant you in sacramental Communion.”
St. Teresa of Avila writes: “When you do not receive Communion and you do not attend Mass, you can make a spiritual communion, which is a most beneficial practice; by it the love of God will be greatly impressed on you.” [The Way of Perfection, Ch. 35.]
“If you practice the holy exercise of Spiritual Communion a good many times each day, within a month you will see yourself completely changed.”
– St. Leonard of Port Maurice
(4) Meditation on the Last Things
– From the ‘Instruments of Good Works,‘ from the Rule of St. Benedict
(5) Lectio Divina
St. Jerome, writing about a holy man of his time, says that he made his heart “a library for Christ.” So often it is the case that individuals fill their hearts and minds with present troubles, with worldly things and with innumerable other sources of distraction or anxiety, ranging from mere trifles to great evils. Let us have none of this. Let us meditate often on the life-giving words of God; ‘lay up His words in thy heart‘ (Job 22:22), and draw upon them day and night; they will purify you, they will inflame you, and they will set your heart on things eternal. Without this, there can be no joy; our heart longs for the infinity of the horizon; what we truly desire – whether or not we realise it – lies beyond this crumbling world.
To truly profit from spiritual reading and meditation, the end must always be that we come to know and love God more – and this, principally, by means of prayer, without which there can be no lasting growth in wisdom and charity. ‘The mouth of the just shall meditate wisdom’ (Ps. 38:30).
“At the Last Judgment I shall not ask souls if they have read much, but what fruit they have drawn from their reading.”
– Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata Ferrero
The final means for growing in Divine Love deserves/requires a post of its own. Also, I have run out of time (even with a generous extension). Hopefully it will be ready by next Sunday.
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