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? …”

 

 

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“Why do you fear death?” – Jesus to Sr. Mary

“Why do you fear death? Do you doubt Me?

(1) For your sins: see here is My mercy.

(2)For your cares, your anxieties, your desires: here is My Providence.

(3) For your weakness: here is My Omnipotence.

(4) It is My joy to give you hour by hour sufficient strength, to have you entirely dependent on My love.”

– Jesus to Sr. Mary of the Trinity

(I have inserted the numbers)

(1) St. John Vianney (Taken from his Catechism): “Some say, ‘I have done too much evil; the good God cannot pardon me.’ My children, this is a great blasphemy; it is putting a limit to the mercy of God, which has no limit – it is infinite. You may have done evil enough to lose the souls of a whole parish, and if you confess, if you are sorry for having done this evil, and resolve not to do it again, the good God will have pardoned you.”

“My mercy for fallen souls is limitless.” – Jesus to Sr. Josefa

(2) Garrigou-Lagrange (Taken from ‘The Three Ages of the Interior Life’): “We read of the just in the Book of Wisdom: ‘Though in the sight of men they suffered torments, their hope is full of immortality. Afflicted in few things, in many they shall be well rewarded: because God hath tried them, and found them worthy of Himself. As gold in the furnace He hath proved them, and as a victim of a holocaust He hath received them.’ Thus trial causes hope to grow, and hope does not deceive us, for God does not abandon those who trust Him. ‘No one hath hoped in the Lord, and hath been confounded.’ It is evident that the Lord will not refuse Himself to those who love Him, to those to whom He has already given His Son. . . . He has prepared eternal beatitude for those who love Him above all else.”

(3) “And when the enemy represents to us our weakness, let us say with the Apostle, ‘I can do all things in Him who strengtheneth me’ (Phil. 4:13). Of myself I can do nothing; but I trust in God, that, by His grace, I shall be able to do all things…” – St. Alphonsus

 “The only way to make rapid progress along the path of divine love is to remain very little and put all our trust in almighty God.” -St. Therese

(4) “O My daughter, how many would have abandoned Me if they had not been crucified. The cross is a gift too precious, and from it come many virtues.”

Jesus to St. Gemma Galgani (Born: March 12, 1878; Died: April 11, 1903)

 

“my future to Thy Providence”

St. Padre Pio, the holy priest and stigmatist, used to pray (and encourage others to pray) thus:

“My past, O Lord, to Thy Mercy; my present, to Thy Love; my future, to Thy Providence.”

As children of an “infinitely loving Father” (St. Padre Pio), we must entrust the future to God’s love and wisdom. He knows what we need. God arranges everything for our greatest good, namely, eternal salvation. For this reason, we must trust in Him at all times. This will bring grace and peace.

Here is a beautiful illustration of God’s merciful providence, as well as our inability to discern the things of God: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways”, says the Lord (Isaiah 55:8).

(Taken from p. 319 of ‘The Life of Leon Papin-Dupont, The Holy Man of Tours’)

In everything that happened, even though in its human aspects it was most disastrous and apparently most detrimental to the interests of religion, his faith beheld the action of Divine Providence and the accomplishment of the Divine Will. Thus, when the terrible conflagration which took place in a church at Santiago, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, was exciting the greatest sensation throughout the civilised world, a lady of Tours felt herself tempted to murmur against God for having allowed so many devout clients of His Virgin Mother to perish by so frightful a catastrophe at the very time when they were rendering her their homage. Meeting M. Dupont in the street, she gave expression to her distress in passionate terms.

“But, madam”, he said, “you let your feelings carry you away. Instead of being afflicted, you ought rather to be thankful. See, I pray you, how, whilst His earthly children were occupied in glorifying their heavenly Mother, God chose that very moment for calling them to Himself and transported them straight into His Paradise. In an instant they are saved, they are happy; it is not a disaster; it is a mercy, and one of the greatest that could have befallen them.”

“I did not venture to reply”, adds the lady, who was herself the Abbe Janvier’s informant. “He was in another sphere. I looked only to earth, he to heaven.”

"The judgments of God are always right, perfectly just, and justice does not manifest severity except where souls 
have abused mercy." - Reginald Garrigou Lagrange

Jesus Is Most Deserving Of Compassion!

“My Child, do not believe that my agony has been only three hours, no; actually I will be in agony till the end of the world because of the souls I love.”

– Jesus to St. Padre Pio

Similar words were spoken to Ven. Concepcion Cabrera de Armida:

“I only remained on the Cross of Calvary for three hours, but on the interior Cross of My Heart, my whole life. The monasteries (Oasis) will venerate both of them but especially my Interior Cross which symbolizes these pains and these inner sufferings, so incomprehensible, which constantly oppress my soul. These sufferings remained hidden during My life. I smiled, I labored. Only My Mother was aware of this martyrdom which crushed My loving Heart. My external Passion lasted but a few hours. It was like a gentle dew, a comfort for the other Passion, terribly cruel, which tortured ceaselessly My soul!” (Diary, Sept. 25, 1894).

How worthy is Jesus of our compassion! Recognising my own sinfulness and past obstinacy, I repeat the words of Bl. Alexandrina:

“Do not offend our dear Lord any more. Convert yourselves. Do not lose Jesus for all eternity. He is so good. Enough of sin! LOVE HIM! LOVE HIM!”

The following words of Our Lord to St. Mechtilde should fill us with a holy fear, but also with profound humility, love and gratitude:

“As long as a sinner remains in sin, he keeps Me stretched and fastened to the Cross, but as soon as he is converted and repentant he detaches Me, and as if I really had been detached from the Cross I fall, with all My weight on him, as formerly on Joseph of Arimathea, with My grace and mercy; I give Myself into his hands, that he may do with Me as he will.”

However sinful our past, God offers us a fresh start. Salvation is our greatest good, and sanctity is our means of salvation; therefore, let us pray daily for the grace to become a saint! This is the most noble, joyful and meaningful end that any human can aspire to! Fortunate are they who strive earnestly for holiness! Here are some book suggestions to help you progress in the spiritual life:

‘The Three Conversions in the Spiritual Life’ by Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange (112 pages)

‘The Ways of Mental Prayer’ by Dom Vital Lehodey (408 pages) (Recommended by Garrigou-Lagrange and St. Pope Pius X, who was reffered to by St. Padre Pio as “the greatest Pope since St. Peter”!)

‘Christian Perfection and Contemplation’ by Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange (470 pages)

The first recommendation will be of great profit to all- Protestant or Catholic- and it is very affordable: http://www.bookdepository.com/Three-Conversions-Spiritual-Life-R-Gamigou-Lagrange/9780895557391

God bless!

 

God’s Unfathomable Mercy: Deathbed Conversions

*If you do not have time to read the introduction, please skip to the conversion stories. They start with this symbol +

“Pray as much as you can for the dying. By your entreaties, obtain for them trust in My mercy, because they have most need of trust, and have it the least.”

– Jesus to St. Faustina, Diary, 1777

St. Bernard, St. Benedict and others remind us that the surest way to ensure a happy death is to live a good life (Eccles. 11:3). St. Francis of Assisi welcomed “sister death.” He came to see death as an entrance into eternal joy with his Beloved. This is what death will be like for those who- following St. Francis and others- live prayerful lives, bear their sufferings patiently, and avoid deliberate sin.  

To those who do not do this, I repeat the words of St. Alphonsus Liguori: “Some would wish to be saved and to become saints, but never resolve to adopt the means of salvation, such as meditation, the frequentation of the sacraments, detachment from creatures; or, if they adopt these means, they soon give them up. In a word, they are satisfied with fruitless desires, and thus continue to live in enmity with God, or at least in tepidity, which, in the end, leads them to the loss of God. Thus in them are verified the words of the Holy Ghost, desires kill the slothful.”

Does this sound like a description of our life thus far? If so, join me in saying “thanks be to God!” for having shown us the narrow path that leads to Heaven! What a blessing! There is still time to change our course!

Many are unaware of what they must do to be saved. For these souls we must pray and offer sacrifices. This is the grave obligation of every Christian. The Mass, which is a mystical renewal of the sacrifice at Calvary, is the most powerful offering for the conversion of sinners. If we cannot attend Mass frequently, we can at least offer our actions and prayers for sinners- especially the Rosary.

If we do not pray for sinners, we cannot say that we are following Christ, Whose entire life was offered for sinners. We must continue His work of redemption. “I have need of your sufferings to rescue souls”, said Our Lord to St. Faustina (Diary 1612). He repeats the same words to us. If we are attentive, we will ‘hear’ them resounding in the depths of our hearts.

Here are some beautiful anecdotes that should encourage us to pray and hope for the salvation of souls- including those who appear to have rejected God:

+ Even when we see no sign of contrition, we can still not affirm that, at the last moment, just before the separation of soul from body, the soul is definitively obstinate. A sinner may be converted at that last minute in such fashion that God alone can know it. The holy Cure of Ars, divinely enlightened, said to a weeping widow: “Your prayer, Madame, has been heard. Your husband is saved. When he threw himself into the Rhone, the Blessed Virgin obtained for him the grace of conversion just before he died. Recall how, a month before, in your garden, he plucked the most beautiful rose and said to you, ‘Carry this to the altar of the Blessed Virgin.’ She has not forgotten.” (Garrigou Lagrange, Life Everlasting)

+ St. John Bosco came to the bed of a dying Freemason. This Freemason said to him: “Don’t speak to me of religion. Otherwise here is a revolver whose bullet is for you and another one whose bullet is for me.” “Well, then” said the saint, “let us speak of something else.” Then Bosco spoke to him of Voltaire, relating the latter’s life. Toward the end of his account, Bosco said: “Some say that Voltaire never repented and had a bad death. This I do not say, because I do not know.” “You mean,” said the Freemason, “that even Voltaire could repent?” “Oh, certainly.” “Then I, too, could repent.” Thus this man who was in despair seems to have had a good death.  (Garrigou Lagrange, Life Everlasting)

+God’s mercy sometimes touches the sinner at the last moment in a wondrous and mysterious way. Outwardly, it seems as if everything were lost, but it is not so. The soul, illumined by a ray of God’s powerful final grace, turns to God in the last moment with such a power of love that, in an instant, it receives from God absolution of sins and remission of punishment, while outwardly it shows no sign either of repentance or of contrition, because souls [at that stage] no longer react to external things. Oh, how beyond comprehension is God’s mercy! But – horror! – There are also souls who voluntarily and consciously reject and scorn this grace!” (St. Faustina, Diary, 1698)

+ “In the lowest and most painful (degree of Purgatory)… here there are the sinners who have committed terrible crimes during life and whose death surprised them in that state. It was almost a miracle that they were saved, and often by the prayers of holy parents or other pious persons. Sometimes they did not even have time to confess their sins and the world thought them lost, but God, whose mercy is infinite, gave them at the moment of death the contrition necessary for their salvation on account of one or more good actions which they performed during life.” (Revelation from a soul in Purgatory to Sister M. de L.C, from “An Unpublished Manuscript on Purgatory”)

+ Here is a beautiful story taken from the Transalpine Redemptorists’ website: http://papastronsay.blogspot.com.au/

Father Hermann Cohen’s mother died without receiving Holy Baptism. In the eyes of the unwise ‘she died as an unconverted Jewess’ in spite of the many prayers offered for her by her priestly son…

The last moments for Mrs. Cohen arrived on 13 December 1855. Father Hermann was preaching Advent in Lyons at the time and he announced this sad news to his friend in these terms: “God has struck a terrible blow to my heart. My poor mother is dead … and I remain in incertitude! However we have so much prayed that we must hope that something has passed between her soul and God during these last moments that we cannot know about.” We can easily imagine the pain of Father Hermann in learning of the death of his mother. He had so much prayed and so much had prayers said for her conversion, and she came to appear before the tribunal of God without having received holy Baptism!

“I also have a mother,” would he write one day, “I have left her to follow Jesus Christ, she no longer calls me her ‘good son’. Already her hair is silvered, already her brow is furrowed, and I am afraid to see her die. Oh! no I would not like to see her die before loving Jesus Christ, and already for many years I await for my mother that which Monica awaited for Augustine…” God seemed to have despised all his prayers and rejected his loving and legitimate desires. His faith and his love were put through a harsh trial. Nevertheless, if his sorrow was deep, his hope in the infinite goodness of God would not allow itself to be struck down…

A short time later, he confided to the Curé of Ars (St. John Vianney) his disquiet about the death of his poor mother who died without the grace of Baptism. “Hope!” replied the man of God, “hope; you will receive one day, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception a letter that will bring you great consolation.”

These words were almost forgotten, when, on the 8th December 1861, six years after the death of his mother, a Father of the Company of Jesus handed to Father Hermann the following letter. (The person who wrote this letter died in the odour of sanctity; she was well known in the religious and ascetical world by her written works on the Eucharist.) The letter read:

On the 18th October, after Holy Communion, I found myself in one of those moments of intimate union with Our Lord, where he made me so feel his presence in the sacrament of His love that Faith seemed no longer necessary to believe him there. After a short time, He had me hear His voice and He wanted to give me some explanations relative to a conversation that I had had the night before. I remember that, in that conversation, one of my friends had manifested her surprise that Our Lord, who has promised to accord everything to prayer, had however remained deaf to those of Reverend Father Hermann who had so many times addressed Him to obtain the conversion of his mother; her surprise went almost as far as discontentment, and I had had difficulty in having her understand that we must adore the justice of God and not to seek to penetrate its secrets (a good tip for those who fear God excessively). I dared to ask of my Jesus how it was that He, who was goodness itself, had been able to resist the prayers of Father Hermann, and not grant the conversion of his mother. This was His (Our Lord’s) response:

“Why does Anna always want to sound the secrets of my justice and why does she seek to penetrate mysteries that she cannot comprehend? Tell her that I do not owe my grace to anyone, that I give it to whom I please and that in acting in this way I do not cease to be just, and justice itself. But that she may know that, rather than not keep the promises that I have made to prayer, I will upset heaven and earth, and that every prayer that has my glory and the salvation of souls for object is always heard when it is clothed in the necessary qualities.

(Our Lord said to Sr. Mary of the Trinity that we must desire what we pray for. We must also pray perseveringly. If we are unwilling to make sacrifices for others, perhaps we do not truly desire that for which we pray?)

He added:

“And to prove to you this truth, I willingly make known that which passed at the moment of the death of the mother of Father Hermann.”

My Jesus then enlightened me with a ray of His divine light and had me understand or rather to see in Him that which I want to try to relate. At the moment where the mother of Father Hermann was on the point of rendering her last breath; at the moment that she seemed deprived of awareness, almost without life; Mary, our good Mother, presented Herself before Her Divine Son, and prostrate at His feet, She said to Him:

“Pardon and mercy, o my Son! for this soul who is going to perish. Yet another instant and she will be lost, lost for eternity. I beseech you, do for the mother of my servant Hermann, that which you would like to be done for your own, if She was in her place and if you were in his. The soul of his mother is his most precious good; he has consecrated her to me a thousand times; he has consecrated her to the tenderness and solicitude of my heart. Could I suffer her to perish? No, no, this soul is mine; I will it, I claim it as an inheritance, as the price of your blood and of my sufferings at the foot of your Cross.”

Hardly had the sacred suppliant ceased speaking, when a strong, powerful grace, came forth from the source of all graces, from the adorable Heart of our Jesus, and came to enlighten the soul of the poor dying Jewess; instantly triumphing over her stubbornness and resistances. This soul immediately turned herself with loving confidence towards Him whose mercy had pursued her as far as the arms of death and said to Him: “O Jesus, God of the Christians, God whom my son adores, I believe, I hope in Thee, have pity on me.” In this cry, heard by God alone and which came from the intimate depths of the heart of the dying woman, were enclosed the sincere sorrow for her obstinacy and for her sins, the desire of baptism, the express will to receive it and to live according to the rules and precepts of our holy religion, if she had been able to return to life.

This leap of faith and hope in Jesus was the last sentiment of that soul; it was made at the moment when she brought towards the throne of the divine mercy. Breaking away the weak bonds which held her to her mortal casing, she fell at the feet of Him who had been her Saviour (a moment) before being her Judge.” After having showed me all these things, Our Lord added:

“Make this known to Father Hermann; it is a consolation that I wish to accord to his long sorrows, so that he will bless, and have blessed everywhere, the goodness of the heart of my Mother and Her power over mine.”

After admonishing sinners, Our Lord addresses the following words to sinners (through St. Bridget):

“MY MERCY, HOWEVER, IS THAT NONE OF MY ENEMIES IS SO THOROUGH OR SO GREAT A SINNER THAT I WOULD DENY HIM MY FORGIVENESS IF HE WERE TO ASK FOR IT HUMBLY AND WHOLEHEARTEDLY.”