In Christ We Can Do All Things

“My child, I have seated Myself at the door of your heart, so as to defend it from the entrance of evil passions.” 

– Jesus to Bl. Elizabeth Canori–Mora

Our Lord’s Kingdom on Earth is established in the souls of men; there He reigns; it is there that He seeks His rest.

Knowing that God is with those who call on Him with trust and purity of intention, how can we not be consoled? If we are lonely, confused or tempted, we can turn to Him; He will make up for everything we lack, if only we let Him.

If we look to Christ for help, we have nothing to fear.

Bl. Elizabeth Canori-Mora: A Witness to God’s Goodness and Power

“One day Elizabeth saw furious devils under the form of giants rushing towards her, and trying to deprive her of life by piercing her throat.

On seeing this great danger, she cried out, and called Our Lord to her aid. At the same moment a ray of light, like lightning, flashed in the eyes of these hideous monsters, and immediately put them to flight. Elizabeth, being freed from these horrible phantoms, was pouring forth her thanks to God, when Our Lord appeared to her, and said:

“You were already no more than a corpse without life, when I took compassion on you. If my mercy had not been so great to you, what would have become of you?”

(p. 23 of her biography)

“Once fortified by Divine Grace,” she said, “from being weak as a baby, I became terrible as a lion and full of courage. I went into the battle in the Name of the Lord.” (p. 77)

“Several devils presented themselves to her, each carrying an instrument of torture, and threatening to torment her one after the other if she did not renounce her faith in Jesus Christ, and consent to all which they required from her. The holy woman renewed her confidence in Him Who giveth the victory in battle, and boldly said to them: “Torment me as much as you wish. I hope in Jesus Christ; in Him I am assured of victory.” (p. 78)

“Another day her soul appeared to her under the appearance of a pilgrim, with a staff in her hand, the feet naked, and the head uncovered. Our Lord also came, dressed as a pilgrim, and said:

“My daughter, you must pass through this forest. I will be your guide, come and follow Me.”

The Venerable Mother, fearing that this was some diabolical illusion, hesitated to go. Our Lord said to her:

“Follow Me; do not be afraid that you will be deceived: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

At the same time He shot from His Heart a ray of light, which reassured her, and she began to follow Him resolutely.” (p. 107 – 108)

“Have confidence in Me; I promise you, as your God, that you shall gain the victory.”

– Jesus to Bl. Elizabeth

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Divine Grace and Beauty of Soul

“For if you saw the spiritual beauty of the angels and of holy souls, your body could not bear to see it but would break like a vessel, broken and decayed due to the soul’s joy at the sight.”

– Jesus to St. Bridget (Bk 2, Ch. 18)

“I desire,” said Our Lord to Sr. Gertrude Mary, “that you should be altogether beautiful, My beloved.” It is as if He said: ‘My spouse, I love you. I cannot bear to see your soul sullied with sin.’

God takes delight in seeing us happy, beautiful and holy. But we will never have these things if we are attached to sin. Why? Because they can only increase in proportion to grace and charity, which are opposed to sin.

“Be ye perfect,” says the Lord. These are not the words of a demanding Spouse; no, they are an admirable proof of God’s love for us. We are perfected by grace and charity, which unites us to God; therefore, by calling us to perfection, God is calling us to receive His love, so that we might love Him in return!

It is because of God’s great love for us that He wants us to abstain from sin. Sin is a privation of goodness: it is a negation, a corruption, a perversion, an absence of goodness. Just as leprosy ravages the body, so too does cancer ravage the soul. One mortal sin is worse than all the sufferings of Hell.

If people cared as much for the beauty of their soul as they did their bodies, many of us would be saints. But, too often, instead of adorning our souls with virtues, we adorn our bodies; instead of directing others to God by our virtue and humility, we seek to draw attention to ourselves; rather than growing in love, we grow in self–love; rather than “glorifying God in [our] bodies”, we profane them.

“We must love the state of grace above everything else and fear nothing so much as occasions of sin… The state of grace is our beauty. It is the reflection of Jesus Christ in His Saints. As the Father sees Himself in His Word, so Jesus sees Himself in their souls. But if the soul is stained with sin, it is impossible for God to be reflected therein. Do you expect Him to be well pleased to look at His Divine Son’s executioner? Evil is never lovable. And when we are guilty of sin, God cannot love our state.” (St. Peter Julian Eyrmard)

What good has mankind’s general obsession with physical beauty achieved? Vanity, low self–esteem, depression, jealousy, envy, lust? How many souls have been led into sin as a result of this perverse glorification of the human body, which is destined to decay and die!

Let us value things according to their true worth. Let us shun all vanity and impurity, asking God to give us a thirst for holiness. One can hardly exaggerate the value of a soul, considering that Our Lord redeemed us with His Precious Blood, one drop of which is sufficient to atone for an infinite number of offences.

We must not take sin lightly. For all that God has done for our souls, we owe it to Him to keep them pure, remembering that only the pure of heart shall see God.

“Never go to rest at night with the slightest shadow obscuring your soul. This I recommend to you with great insistence. When you commit a fault, repair it at once. I wish your soul to be as pure as crystal.”

– Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez

“… I in the beginning created man to My own image and likeness, and… it is always My endeavour, in so far as you are fit for it, to intensify that likeness between Me and you.”

– The Eternal Father to St. Catherine of Siena

The Beauty of a Soul in Grace

“When God had once revealed this beauty to St. Catherine of Siena, she covered with kisses the footsteps of those who were engaged in bringing sinners back to the grace of God, and transported with joy, she said to her confessor:  “Had you, my father, beheld the beauty of one soul adorned with grace, you would certainly, for the sake of one such soul, gladly suffer death a thousand times…

Solomon, therefore, in his Canticle of Canticles, praises nothing so much as this Divine beauty and glory of a soul in grace… If the mere natural beauty of the soul surpasses beyond comparison the beauty of all bodies, even that of the sun, how much more the supernatural beauty which it receives from grace? For there exists a much greater distance between grace and the nature of the soul, than between the latter and all the beauty of the visible world. Nor does the heavenly splendour of grace suffer from the fact that our bodily, or even our mental eye, is incapable of beholding it; this is rather a proof of its excellence, for whatever we are able to see can only be a limited and earthly beauty.” (‘The Glories of Divine Grace’ – an essential read for every Christian!)

‘The Glories of Divine Grace’ can be read online here (legally):

https://archive.org/stream/gloriesofdivineg00sche#page/n3/mode/2up

If we can find the time to learn about trivial things, surely we can devote at least a few minutes a day to learning about Divine Grace! This book will be a revelation to many; it certainly has been to me. It will make sin seem very, very unappealing.

Mary’s Appeal to the Worst of Sinners

Our Lady spoke these words to St. Bridget of Sweden:

“I tell you so now: Nobody in the world is so great a sinner – provided he says in his heart that my Son is the Creator and Redeemer of the universe and dear to him in his inmost heart – that I am not prepared to come to him immediately, like a loving mother to her son, and hug him and say: ‘What would you like, my son?’ Even if he had deserved the lowest punishment in Hell, nevertheless, if only he has the intention of not caring for worldly honours or greed or carnal lust, such as the church condemns, and desires nothing but his own sustenance, then he and I will right away get along quite well together.” (Bk IV, Ch 32)

Sadly, this appeal of Our Lady will not be heeded by many. The atheist will deny it; the agnostic will view it with a pitiable indifference and skepticism; and the sinner and lukewarm Christian alike will scarcely perceive that it is addressed to him just as much – if not more – than it is addressed to other ‘greater’ sinners, who have perhaps received far fewer graces.

Please pray, dear reader, that neither you nor I will be lukewarm; pray, rather, that we might become Saints. This is the surest way to please, to console, and to thank Our Lady and Our Lord for all they have done for us, and for all they desire to do for us!

A Helpful Tip for Overcoming Temptation.

One day St. Rose of Lima complained to Our Lord that He let her be exposed to a great danger of falling into sin. Perhaps we have been in this position before. Perhaps we have even fallen into mortal sin many times, despite what we thought to be our best efforts. Maybe we have become so discouraged that we almost expect to fall again…

Whatever the case may be, the good news is that God has not given up on us: if we desire Him, He desires us far more; for we cannot seek God without His grace.

“As soon as your soul is touched by grace, and before the struggle has even begun, hasten to My Heart; beg of Me to let a drop of My Blood fall on your soul. . . . Ah! hasten to My Heart . . . and be without fear for the past; all has been swallowed up in the abyss of My mercy, and My love is preparing new graces for you. The memory of your lapses will be an incentive to humility and a source of merit, and you cannot give Me a greater proof of affection than to count on My full pardon and to believe that your sins will never be as great as My mercy, which is infinite.” (Our Lord to Sr. Josefa Menendez)

If we etch the following truths deep in our hearts and minds, we will be preserved from many sins (provided that we persevere in prayer).

1. Grace is all–powerful. Grace is a participation in the Divine Nature; it is invincible, like God Himself. There is no sinner, however hardened, who cannot abandon his sins and be saved, provided that he calls on Almighty God with confidence and a will to turn from his wickedness. “Ask and you shall receive.”

2. God will not allow us to be tempted beyond our strength. We must not blame God for our falls. Deliberate sin, especially mortal sin, can always be avoided. If we fall, we can turn to God in humility, saying: “My Jesus, mercy! Help me to love You more! Please increase my humility. Help me to trust in you. Without You I am nothing and can do nothing.” And so forth. By our confidence we honour the infinite goodness of God. This is a sure way of obtaining great graces.

3. Without Grace we can do nothing. Everyone receives actual grace – absolutely everyone. Were God to withdraw His grace from us, we would not so much as be able to think a good thought. All life, all holiness, all wisdom, all intelligence, all goodness comes from Him. Pride is a perversion, a lie, spiritual theft, insanity (to a greater or lesser extent).

4. With God we can do all things. Every temptation we have overcome, any good we have ever done, any prayer we have made, any good we possess, is a gift from God. Why, then, do we not trust in Him?

Applying this knowledge to the pursuit of perfection – to which we are all called – it becomes evident that if we are to grow in love/holiness, we must place all our confidence in Almighty God, knowing that we can never place too much trust in Him, just as we can never place too little trust in ourselves!

St. Crescentia certainly distrusted herself, and she was profoundly humble and loving. It is written of her that if she heard of someone committing a mortal sin, she would say: “I should have fallen much lower than this unfortunate man, if Almighty God had not so powerfully upheld me; had the man, on the other hand, had the grace I possess, he would live a thousand times more piously than I do. He that thinketh himself to stand, let him take heed lest he fall.” Reflect seriously on these words, dear reader. We can never be too humble.

If we do fall into sin, we must not think: “But my spiritual life was going so well… I had avoided sin for so long… I was soaring with the saints!” No. We must attribute all our former success to God. Likewise, we must only expect to overcome sin with God’s help. Unless we trust in Our Lord, our efforts will be in vain.

“Let Me do it!” This is what Our Lord used to say to St. Veronica Giuliani. He says the same to us. If we are tempted, let Him do it: He will be our strength. If we desire holiness, let Him do it: He will sanctify us. Provided that we follow His inspirations and do not give in to a state of presumptuous passivity, He will lead us into His Sacred Heart.

I said earlier that St. Rose of Lima once complained to Our Lord that He allowed her to come close to falling into sin (or so she thought). This was Our Lord’s reply:

“Would you have conquered if I had not been in your heart? I am always with you and My grace forsakes you not; therefore weep no more.”

On another occasion, He said to her:

“They must no longer be deluded as to the meaning of pain; trial is the path to perfection; by it they attain beauty of soul and the summit of grace, and the glory of the Children of God. The Cross is the true and only ladder to reach Heaven. Without the Cross this ascent is impossible.”

Next time you are tempted, recall these words:

“Would you have conquered if I had not been in your heart? I am always with you and My grace forsakes you not.”

15 Reasons To Suffer With LOVE.

“Embrace the cross lovingly, whenever it comes, as the most precious token of love I can give you in this life.”
– Jesus to St. Margaret Mary

If we were more humble, we would never complain of suffering (except in the sense in which Our Lord complained in the Garden of Gethsemane). “Let us believe that these scourges of the Lord have happened for our amendment and not for our destruction.” Furthermore, let us consider that God also uses our sufferings – if only we bear them with love – to bring down an abundance of graces for others!

Suffering is a small price to pay considering that one serious sin merits eternal suffering. “They do not consider,” said Our Lady to St. Bridget of Sweden, “that the least little sin a man finds delight in is enough to damn him to an eternal torment [if he does not repent].” (We must not forget that Hell is only for those who die in unrepented mortal sin.) This consideration is mentioned so that we may humbly thank God in particular for the priceless grace of repentance, and for the grace of knowing the value – at least to a greater degree than many others – of suffering. God desires that we be happy with Him both here and hereafter. The cross is the means by which God purifies souls and leads them to Himself.

It is a great act of charity to console the suffering. Perhaps the following words will be of profit to someone you know who is suffering:

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

2. “… when suffering is joined to love, the proofs of love given through suffering are a true reparation [i.e. for sin] offered to God.” – Jesus to Sr. Mary of the Trinity

3. “Whenever a soul receives with faith and love any occasion of suffering, it is as if she received Me in her arms when taken down from the Cross.” – Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata

4. “Be not afflicted if I begin to abandon thee. Do not think it chastisement. It is truly My own Will in order to detach thee from
creatures and unite thee to Myself.” – Jesus to St. Gemma Galgani

5. “No sin of yours will come under my judgment if it has been expiated in this life through your penance.” – Jesus to St. Bridget

6. “The best penance is to have patience with the sorrows God permits.” – St. Peter Damian

7. “The Cross is the way to Paradise, but only when it is borne willingly.” – St. Paul of the Cross

8. “You will save more souls through prayer and suffering than will a missionary through his teachings and sermons alone.” – Jesus to St. Faustina

9.  “Affliction is always accompanied by Grace; Grace is proportionate to Suffering. The measure of My gifts is increased with the measure of trials.” – Jesus to St. Rose of Lima

10. ”O My daughter, how many would have abandoned Me if they had not been crucified.” – Jesus to St. Gemma Galgani

11. “Let us tell ourselves that every day, every hour, every instant of suffering borne with Jesus and for love of Him will be a new heaven [reward in Heaven] for all eternity, and a new glory given God for ever.” – Bl. Dom Columba Marmion

12. “My child, you canst do nothing more gratifying to Me than to submit patiently to all the tribulations that befall you.” – Jesus to St. Gertrude

13. “The cross is a gift too precious, and from it come many virtues.” – Jesus to St. Gemma Galgani

14. “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad because these trials will make you partners with Christ in his suffering, and afterward you will have the wonderful joy of sharing his glory when it is displayed to all the world.” – 1 Peter 4:12-13

15. “O what inspiration there is in the Crucifix! … God … never commands us to do anything which he has not first practiced Himself…” – St. John Vianney

+++

… should I then have deserved to go to hell in punishment of my sins, I entreat you, O my Lord to pardon me, and to be pleased to lead me to enjoy you eternally in heaven.”

– Venerable Fabrizio Dall’ Aste

Keep falling into the same sins? Pray!

“He who prays most receives most.”

– St. Alphonsus

Rather than provide a theological argument for the importance of (mental) prayer, I will rely on the authority of the Church and the saints. What they say about mental prayer, quite simply, is that it is the means for obtaining all good things: confidence, peace, joy, happiness, humility, conversion, virtue, and the crowning graces, namely, divine love and final perseverance, without which no one can be saved.

What is Mental Prayer?

“… a silent elevation and application of our mind and heart to God in order to offer Him our homages and to promote His glory by our advancement in virtue.” – Tanquerey 

Some simple steps for mental prayer:

1. Ask for the grace to pray well.

2. Put ourselves in the presence of God.

3. Resolve to pray for a certain period of time, despite temptations, dryness etc.

4. Make a firm resolution to overcome a particular sin, or to practice a particular virtue.

What do the saints say about mental prayer?

One cannot fail to make a firm resolution to pray more frequently (or at least more attentively) after having read the following words:

“Short of a miracle, a man who does not practice mental prayer will end up in mortal sin…

All the saints have become saints by mental prayer.”

– St. Alphonsus

Why is this so? Here is what St. Peter of Alacantara has to say about mental prayer:

“IN MENTAL PRAYER, THE SOUL IS

purified from its sins,

nourished with charity,

confirmed in faith,

and strengthened in hope;

the mind expands,

the affections dilate,

the heart is purified,

truth becomes evident;

temptation is conquered,

sadness dispelled;

the senses are renovated;

drooping powers revive;

tepidity ceases;

the rust of vices disappears.

Out of mental prayer issues forth, like living sparks, those desires of heaven which the soul conceives when inflamed with the fire of divine love. Sublime is the excellence of mental prayer, great are its privileges; to mental prayer heaven is opened; to mental prayer heavenly secrets are manifested and the ear of God [is] ever attentive.”

“By the efficacy of mental prayer temptation is banished, sadness is driven away, lost virtue is restored, fervor which has grown cold is excited, and the lovely flame of divine love is augmented.” – St. Laurence Justinian

“When one does not love prayer, it is morally impossible for him to resist his passions.” – St. Alphonsus

Many more quotes could be added, but these are sufficient. Here are some further tips for overcoming sin, discouragement and unhappiness:

“In the spiritual life, one must always go on pushing ahead and never go backwards; if not, the same things happens to a boat which when it loses headway gets blown backwards with the wind.” – St. Padre Pio

“Impregnate yourself with humility, and you will soon find that all other virtues will follow without any effort on your part.” – Fr. Cajetan

“God requires of us only strong resolutions; he himself will do the rest.” – St. Teresa of Avila

” How much soever you have advanced here below, you err if you think your vices are not only suppressed, but dead.” – St. Bernard

“So long as we tackle all our troubles ourselves, we shall be always worried and tired, and Our Lord will leave us to our own devices; but when we leave everything to Him, He will look after all our troubles Himself. … . I am not just speaking of temporal things, but also of spiritual ones.” – St. Francis de Sales

“If you say the Holy Rosary every day, with a spirit of faith and love, our Lady will make sure she leads you very far along her Son’s path.” St. Josemaria Escriva

” A prayer in which a person is not aware of Whom he is speaking to, what he is asking, who it is who is asking and of Whom, I don’t call prayer- however much the lips may move.” – St. Teresa of Avila

“We must not be upset by our imperfections; instead, we must recognize them and learn to combat them. And it is in fighting against our imperfections without being discouraged by them that our very perfection consists.”

– St. Francis de Sales

A Cause For Hope: God’s Unchanging Goodness!

“I am love and mercy itself.”

– Our Lord to St. Faustina

“For I am the Lord, and I change not.” (Mal. 3:6) God is infinite. In Him there are no parts: His essence is undivided, eternal, self-giving love. God had no need in creating us; rather, we were created to share His love, His joy, and His goodness. Our Lord revealed to a chosen soul that He desires us to be less anxious about avoiding Hell, and more intent on occupying the place in Heaven that He has prepared for us (cf. ‘Words of Love’ by Bartholomew Gottemoller).

Even the most wretched or discouraged sinners need not lose hope. Every inspiration to love God is inspired by God, Who said: “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”

Just as the sunflower grows towards the sun when it receives its light, so too do souls draw closer to God as they receive the rays of His love. Remember: it only takes one spark to light a forest. What does this mean? It means that however cold we are, or however sinful, when God offers us His grace, He offers us grace without limit. Our love will continue to grow if we humbly (and with much gratitude!) follow that first inspiration. Many great sinners have followed this inspiration and become great saints.

 “God hates sin infinitely, but He loves His creatures infinitely. As soon as the soul repents of its sin, it recovers the love of God. If all sinners wished to return to God with contrite and humble hearts, all would be saved.”

– St. Leonard

To contemplate God’s unchanging goodness is most consoling. We must not be guided by feelings in the spiritual life; our feelings change as the tides. Instead, be guided by grace, which has its source in the unchanging beauty and love of God, and which leads to that same fountain of goodness!

“God is immutable, i.e., He ever remains the same. God never changes; He never becomes better or worse; He never breaks His word. Creation made no change in God; from all eternity He had decreed the creation of the universe. God changes His works, but not His eternal decrees. By the Incarnation humanity was changed, but the Godhead underwent no change, just as the sun is in no way changed when it hides itself behind a cloud. Our thoughts are not changed when they clothe themselves in words; so the divinity was not changed when it clothed itself in the nature of man. God does not change when He punishes the sinner. When the heart of man is in friendship with God, God shows Himself to him as a God of infinite love and mercy; when the heart is estranged from Him, the sinner sees in the unchangeable God an angry and avenging judge. When the eye is sound, the light is pleasant to it; but if it is diseased, light causes it pain: it is not the light that is changed, but the eye that looks upon it [this analogy was used by God Himself to St. Catherine of Siena]. When an angry man looks in the glass he sees a different reflection from that which he saw when he was cheerful and in good-humour; it is not the glass that has changed, but the man. When the sun shines through colored glass, its rays take the color of the glass; the sun does not change, but the light is changed by the medium through which it passes. So when God rewards, it is not God Who changes, but man, who performs different and better actions, thereby meriting the grace of God. When in Scripture we read that God repented of having made man, that God is angry with the wicked, the phrases used are accommodated to our imperfect comprehension.

Sufferings are no real evil: 

“Sufferings then are no real evil, but are benefits from the hand of God. They are the means of bringing us both to temporal and eternal happiness. God, Who loves us tenderly, has no other object in sending us sufferings but to make us happy. What we count as an evil is the bitterness of the medicine that is necessary for the health of our soul. There is really no evil in the world except sin. Sufferings can never really make us unhappy; men can be happy in spite of all kinds of sufferings. We see this in Job, in Tobias, in Our Lady. St. Paul says, ” I am filled with comfort ; I exceedingly abound with joy in all our tribulation” (2 Cor. vii. 4).

“If we have a bit little of the love of God is us, to Him alone should we give honor and glory; He has placed it in us, for without Him we can do nothing. There remains for us the obligation of gratitude.”

– St. Francis de Sales