6 Easy Ways to Grow in Divine Love

god-rays-in-vernazza

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.

Apart from Divine Love, all is vanity; God alone is; He is the Beginning and the End of all the deepest yearnings of the human heart; outside of Him there is nothing but vexation and want.

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).

+ Examples:

    1. 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.
    2. Unite your every action, thought, heartbeat, breath etc., to the Sacred Heart and to all the love that animated Our Lady and the Saints.
    3. 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.
    4. 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’)

(2) Aspirations

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:

https://littlestsouls.wordpress.com/2016/03/06/aspirations-an-easy-way-to-attain-holiness-and-joy/

“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

Death, Judgement, Heaven, Hell – also known as the four last things… that most people care to think about. Which is a great tragedy, because the truth is eternal and does not change to suit our fancy.
St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows was once asked how he could possibly bear to spend his days as a religious. Time flies, he replied, when one is thinking about Heaven! If only we had the faintest notion of what awaits those who love God! Mother Agnes (Pauline), the sister of St. Therese (and my dear little sister), shared with her a beautiful story in which a religious appeared to her sister (also a religious) shortly after her death, saying: “I am going to God; oh! I am not sorry for having humbled and annihilated myself for Jesus on earth. If you only knew what glory I am going to have, but God has not permitted me to reveal it to you because you would experience too great a joy and your way is the way of suffering.” (p. 582, ‘Letters of St. Therese,’ ICS Publications)
44. “To fear the days of judgment.
45. To be in dread of hell.
46. To desire everlasting life with all spiritual longing.
47. To keep death daily before one’s eyes.”

– 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

(6) …

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.

+ PAX +

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Excellent Online Resources for Scrupulosity! (**Including an Excerpt from Blosius**)

Below is a collection of (free and legal) online resources that I believe will be of particular profit to scrupulous individuals.

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What we must always remember is that God loves us eternally – that is, always – with a tender, intimate love. We can do nothing more pleasing in His sight than to live joyfully in the light of His love, which we can neither preserve, earn or augment by our own strength. Avoiding sin is only made capable by God’s grace. But avoiding sin, in itself, is not the essence of sanctity or salvation. Love is. That is why we must ask God frequently for a boundless love for Him. Here is a “love letter” from God to you, which you might consider reading: https://littlestsouls.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/a-love-letter-from-god-to-you-2/

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FREE ONLINE RESOURCES FOR OVERCOMING SCRUPULOSITY

1. ‘Light and Peace: Instructions for Devout Souls to Dispel Their Doubts’ (Quadrupani):

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/quadrupani/light

2. ‘Scruples and Their Treatment’ (Fr. William Doyle, SJ):

http://fatherdoyle.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/scruples-and-their-treatment.pdf

3. ‘Growth in Holiness’ (Fr. F. W. Faber):

https://archive.org/stream/growthinholiness00fabe#page/298/mode/2up

Recommend Chapters: Chapter XVII: Scruples (pp. 298 – 324)

 4. ‘Introduction to the Devout Life’ (St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church):

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/desales/devout_life.toc.html

Recommended Chapters: Part III, Chapter IX: On Gentleness towards Ourselves; Part IV, Chapter II: The Need of a Good Courage; Chapter III: Of Temptations, and the Difference between Experiencing them and Consenting to them; Chapter IV: Two Striking Illustrations of the Same; Chapter V: Encouragement for the Tempted Soul; Chapter XI: Anxiety of Mind; Chapter XII: Of Sadness and Sorrow;

5. ‘Treatise on the Love of God’ (St. Francis de Sales):

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/desales/love.toc.html

(You might like to browse the Chapter titles)

6. ‘Comfort for the Faint-Hearted’ (Ven. Louis of Blois, aka Blosius)

Here is Chapter III (pp. 9 – 12), which consists of a Sermon for the 3rd Sunday in Advent, from Bl. Henry Suso. Unfortunately, this excellent work is quite rare and expensive.

CHAPTER III

OF FIRST INDELIBERATE MOVEMENTS AND UNREASONABLE THOUGHTS

1. What sin really is.

2. No involuntary thought sinful.

3. When there may be venial sin.

1. In what does sin really consist? It is when a man with certain and deliberate will, knowingly and willingly, without contradiction of reason, turns his soul away from God and turns himself to wickedness.

2. From this it evidently follows that even if a man had as many suggestions of evil coming into the mind as there are moments in the day, and even if these imaginations were more foul than the heart of man could conceive or his tongue express, whether these images were of God Himself or any of His creatures, and even if the man remained thus afflicted for one or even for many years, against his will, he would not sin, if only, during all this time, his reason had a hatred, displeasure and aversion to such things. In this case he would never have consented to them with full deliberation and entire will, but rather resisted; although his nature is troubled by these things, he would by no means have sinned mortally. This doctrine is entirely in according with holy Scripture and the tradition of holy Church, by which the Holy Ghost teaches us. In fact, nothing is more certain. Indeed, one thought of vain self-conceit (fully consented to with the will) can render a man more displeasing in the eyes of God than a thousand of these imaginations, however bad (if there is no consent of the will).*

3. But in this matter there lies a certain secret source of anxiety which is the most craftily laid net of the devil and the cleverest trick he can devise. It is this. Sometimes a sudden evil thoughts comes into the mind when a man is off his guard, and thus he feels attraction of pleasure, and, forgetting himself for a moment, he does not turn from it as quickly as he ought. Then he thinks that he has turned to it with wilful and deliberate consent, and by his own neglect has sinned mortally. God forbid that we should thus think! For it is the unanimous opinion of holy men that the reason is often taken unawares through sudden thoughts exciting pleasure in the mind, and that it requires a sufficiently long delay and length of time before the reason with mature deliberation becomes fully master of itself. Then it can either receive or reject these suggestions, and thus either commit sin or turn away from it with disgust. And when this happens, men of good will ought never to feel guilty of mortal sin if they wish to trust to the wholesome Catholic teaching. For St. Augustine says that sin is a thing so voluntary, that where a thing is not voluntary it cannot be sinful. (De Vera Religione, cap. 14.)

* This opinion about the first motions of concupiscence and the fight of the flesh against the spirit without the consent of the will in the sin is taught by St. Thomas, Summa, I-II, ques. 80, art. 3, ad. 3m. See the Council of Trent, Sess. 5.

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Final Recommendations

Lastly, I would like to add that devotion to Mary is a great source of consolation to the afflicted. Our Lady, who is “the Spouse of the  Consoler” (as Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, says), leads her children to the Sacred Heart of her Son. My purpose, here, is not to defend devotion to Our Lady (the Church, Popes, Saints, Mystics, and Our Lady herself – in various private revelations – have already done this); rather, I wish to encourage others to rely on their spiritual mother for spiritual nourishment. Fr. Michael Gaitley explains this concept well in his book, ’33 Days Days to Morning Glory’, which helps us to grasp the sublime doctrine propsed in St. Louis de Montfort’s classic work, ‘ True Devotion to Mary.’

Here is another work of St. Louis de Montfort that is well worth checking:

The Secret of Mary’: http://www.ewtn.com/library/Montfort/secret.htm

Here is a brief excerpt from ‘The Secret of Mary’:

“This devotion [consecration to Jesus, through Mary] makes the soul truly free by imbuing it with the liberty of the children of God. Since we lower ourselves willingly to a state of slavery out of love for Mary, our dear Mother, she out of gratitude opens wide our hearts enabling us to walk with giant strides in the way of God’s commandments. She delivers our souls from weariness, sadness and scruples. It was this devotion that our Lord taught to Mother Agnes de Langeac, a religious who died in the odour of sanctity, as a sure way of being freed from the severe suffering and confusion of mind which afflicted her. “Make yourself,” He said, “My Mother’s slave and wear her little chain.” She did so, and from that time onwards her troubles ceased.”