Liberty of Spirit: The End of Scrupulosity

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Mother of Perpetual Succour, whose Feast Day is celebrated today (June 27)

Mother of Perpetual Succour, ora pro nobis!

“Walk simply in the way of the Lord, and do not torment your mind.”

– St. Francis de Sales

It was one day revealed to Bl. Bernard Francis de Hoyos that a “holy liberty of spirit” is essential to holiness. Jesus wants our hearts to be dilated, full of trust in His merciful goodness. Think of a little child in the presence of its loving father. Even when the child is not looking at its father, it is nevertheless aware of his loving gaze, his power, and his protection. Supposing that the child were to walk towards the edge of a precipice, the father will warn the child; he is always looking out for his little one. Can we doubt that God would do likewise?

Self-Centredness: An Obstacle to Holiness

It often happens that a soul who is advancing towards God, becomes increasingly aware of the many dangers and obstacles that surround us. If the soul possesses good-will, she will strive to avoid sin and its near occasions. So far so good. But the Devil, seeing that he will not win such a soul by the allurement of mortal sin, resorts to more insidious means. If only he can divert the soul’s attention away from God, his job will be that much easier. Why? Because the soul that is preoccupied with self, remains there, instead of going to God (as Our Lord said to St. Mariam of Jesus Crucified). Instead of taking the “elevator of love” (St. Therese), she remains on the earth; her thoughts dwell there, and her heart, of necessity, follows suit.

It is a great shame when a soul turns in on itself; it is deprived of many lights and merits that it would otherwise have received, and God is deprived of the glory of seeing His beloved child happy and holy. ‘The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly.’ (Jn. 10:10)

The Remedy / The Key to Liberty of Spirit

Go to Jesus.

“By His continual contact with you He will free you from your weakness and your faults and from all that troubles you. Nothing ought to prevent our going to Him.”

– Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity (who will be canonized on 16 October, 2016)

We ought to imitate King David, who, after having committed adultery and murder (I don’t say we should imitate him in that), immediately beseeched the Father of all Mercies, of Whom King David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, speaks thus:

‘For thou, O Lord, art sweet and mild: and plenteous in mercy to all that call upon thee.’

(Ps. 86:5)

Commenting on this passage, St. Alphonsus writes: “David declares that God shows not only mercy, but great mercy, to those who invoke Him…” In the same text (‘How to Pray at All Times’), the saint shares with us these consoling words:

“Consider that God is so willing to pardon sinners that He laments their perdition, when they depart far from Him and live dead to His grace. Therefore, does he lovingly call them, saying: Why will you die, O house of Israel? Return ye, and live (Ezek. 18-31). He promises to receive a soul that has forsaken Him, if only it returns to His arms: Turn to Me . . . and I will turn to you (Zach. 1-3). Would that sinners only knew how mercifully our Saviour awaits them in order to pardon them: The Lord waiteth that He may have mercy upon you (Isa. 30-18). Would that sinners realised the desire on the part of God, not, indeed, to chastise them, but to see them converted and to embrace and press them to His Heart: As I live, saith the Lord God, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live (Ezek. 33-11). He has even still more consoling words: Come and accuse Me, saith the Lord; if your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made as white as snow (Is. 1-18). In other words, He says: Sinners, repent of having offended Me and then come to Me. If I do not pardon you, accuse Me of being unfaithful to My promises; but, no, I will keep My word.”

Source: http://www.ecatholic2000.com/cts/untitled-211.shtml

What a great pity it would have been if St. Dismas (the Good Thief), instead of turning his attention to the merciful gaze of our Saviour, chose instead to contemplate the fruit of his own iniquity? Perhaps he would have remained with his sins and been damned. But no; Dismas looked to Jesus, Who is “plenteous in mercy” to all those who invoke Him with even the slightest desire to avail themselves of God’s mercy; and in looking upon the wounds and the gentle Countenance of our Divine Redeemer, his heart was moved to repentance, and he was saved.

What good can possibly come from fixating on our weakness and misery?

When Going to Jesus Appears Fruitless

Our Lord often said to St. Margaret Mary that she would only be lacking in help when His Divine Heart was lacking in power. He meant by this that, if we succumb to distrust – by which we doubt God’s infinite love and power (which is principally manifested in showing mercy to His creatures, as the Collect for the 10th Sunday after Pentecost attests) – we deprive ourselves, to some extent, of God’s assistance. ‘And He wrought not many miracles there, because of their unbelief.‘ (Mt. 13:58)

If we are making little progress in Divine Love, it is because we lack confidence in God. Our prayers should be bold, persevering, even audacious. God knows that we have nothing and can do nothing without His grace. It is precisely for this reason that we have the right and even the obligation to rely on God for everything. “My God and my All!” Every movement towards God, however slight, is the work of God. We cannot merit anything; we are neither good, nor learned, nor holy. ‘Tu solus sanctus.‘ God alone is holy (Rev. 15:4). We are only good to the extent that God acts within us. And God only acts within us to the extent that we rely on Him or let Him.

How often did Our Lord addressed these words to chosen souls:

“LET ME ACT.”

It is as if He said to us: “My little child; you are so weak that you do not know it. You can do nothing without me; you cannot so much as think a good thought without my grace. Come to Me, then, with great confidence; give yourself to Me. I will take care of you. I already am taking care of you. How else can you explain the desire that you have to possess Me? Was it not I Who put this desire in your heart?”

If we lack confidence, we should frequently beg God for this grace; He will give it, gladly. We must “not fear to be importunate” (Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez). God wants to teach us all a valuable lesson: all good comes from Him, and it is only when we truly seek Him and the Kingdom first, that we can absolutely rely on His infallible assistance. ‘You shall seek me, and shall find me: when you shall seek me with all your heart.’ (Jer. 29:13)

St. Alphonsus says that certain pusillanimous souls do not perceive that their lack of confidence is a consequence of their lack of generosity towards God; because they will not abandon themselves to God without reserve, He cannot give Himself without reserve to the soul.

“Is this a sin?”

One of the greatest obstacles to liberty of spirit is habitual analysis of the sinfulness of particular scenarios, hypothetical events, and so on. In a word, if we are fixated on sin, we are not free to love. God never intended things to be this way. “Love and do what you will,” says St. Augustine. Our Lord wants us to be as ‘simple as doves‘ (Mt. 10:16).

It must be known that, although there is a great need for vigilance, the best form of vigilance is to frequently converse with Jesus, Whose very name means “Saviour.” By speaking to Him frequently and with simplicity, invoking His aid, He will guide our feet, just as a father guides his little infant. If it should happen that we commit some fault, it will not be a great one, because our will was more or less focussed on God.

“Do not give a thought to your involuntary imperfections!”

– Jesus to Sr. Consolata (p. 36, ‘Jesus Appeals to the World’)

By means of frequent prayer (e.g. the aspiration, “My Jesus, mercy!”) the soul is liberated from a great deal of trouble; she is free to love. Such souls might happen to commit many imperfections, but God always sustains them; He redirects their attention to Him the moment they perceive their misery.

“If you should happen to commit some fault, do not grieve over it, but come and place it quickly within My Heart; then strengthen your determination to strive for the opposite virtue, but with great calmness. In that manner your every fault will become a step in advance.”

– Jesus to Sr. Consolata (p. 34, JATTW)

St. Therese perfectly exemplifies this perseverance in going to Jesus, Who seeks to purify us at every moment:

“O my good Jesus, who so benignly dost use our continual miseries to feed the fire of Thy divine Mercy, look with pitying eyes upon Thy solicitous purveyor, who lets not a moment pass without giving Thee something to burn!”

– From ‘The Tendernesses of the Love of Jesus for a Little Soul,’ taken from a prayer given by Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata

Jesus asks one thing of us: LOVE. But first, He asks that we go to Him – the emptier our hearts, the better. How else are we to receive LOVE?

Doubts may arise from time to time to confuse our conscience, to distract us from loving; but we should know that we are always safe when we turn to Jesus and Mary, and when we obey our confessor (unless we receive patently evil advice – God forbid!). Good-will, according to the saints, is the perfection that God requires of us.

Some Examples of Liberty of Spirit

+ “I was very much pleased to read,” writes St. Francis de Sales, “in the Life of St. Charles Borromeo, how he yielded to the Swiss incertain things, in which otherwise he was very strict…”

+ “… and that St. Ignatius of Loyola, being invited to play, did not refuse.”

+ “… As to St. Elizabeth of Hungary, she played and danced sometimes, when she was present at assemblies of recreation, without any prejudice to her devotion; for devotion was so deep in her soul, that her devotion increased amongst the pomps and vanities to which her condition exposed her.” (‘Introduction to the Devout Life’)

+ “Saint Spiridion, a bishop of olden times, once gave shelter to a pilgrim who was almost dying of hunger. It was the season of Lent and in a place where nothing was to be had but salt meat. This Spiridion ordered to be cooked and then gave it to the pilgrim. Seeing that the latter, notwithstanding his great need, hesitated to eat it, the Saint, although he did not require it, ate some first in order to remove the poor man’s scruples. That was a true spirit of liberty born of charity.” (Saint Francis de Sales, quoted in Rev. Quadrupani’s brilliant chapter on ‘Liberty of Spirit’: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/quadrupani/light.v.ch_16.html )

+ For the sake of charity, some of the Desert Fathers would eat as often as they had guests, even if they themselves were already sufficiently fed. They would not have eaten until they were absolutely glutted; but they knew charity is primary, and that one can always fast later, or delay the next meal.

[In the Conferences of St. John Cassian, we are given this sage advice: if we have taken on certain spiritual practices, in self-will, that are impeding our peace and spiritual growth, we should give them up. Ideally, we should submit these concerns to our confessor; that way, we avoid self-deception.]

+ St. Teresa Margaret (d. 1770), a Carmelite nun, upon seeing the sufferings of Sr. Mary Victoria at meal-time, leaned over and gave her a kiss. By this simple act of affection, St. Teresa Margaret liberated her from her violent toothache. “The Carmelite rule,” writes Berth Ghezzi (p. 12, ‘Mystics and Miracles’), “forbade one sister to kiss another, but Theresa Margaret wasn’t thinking about rules that day. She was thinking about love, and that led to a small gesture of kindness, and that led to a miracle.” ‘The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath’ (Mk. 2:27).

Like St. Teresa Margaret, St. Therese, St. Francis de Sales, and so many others, we should not be so calculating. It is God, after all, Who is our guide, our protector and our Counsellor. Rather than studying ourselves, then, as if we were some kind of characters in a play, we should prefer to study God, to love Him, to speak to Him with simplicity, and thereby to forget self. “Forgetfulness of self is the tomb of scruples.” Let us turn to our Mother of Perpetual Succour/Help, and let us avoid being children of perpetual worry; we must stop analysing our first movements, involuntary imperfections, venial sins, falls, intentions, words and the like. Go to Jesus, Go to Mary, Go to Joseph (Ite ad Joseph); enjoy their company; do not become the sport of demons by listening to their vile suggestions, which can easily be detected by the effect they have on the soul, and by the fact that they keep the soul from God.

Saint Teresa Margaret Redi

St. Teresa Margaret, Carmelite nun (d. 7 March, 1770)

Some Advice Given to Sr. Consolata Betrone

“Think no longer about yourself, about your perfection, on how to attain sanctity, or about your defects, your present and future troubles. No, I will see to your sanctification, to your sanctity. You must henceforth think only of Me and of souls; of Me to love, and of souls to save them!” (p. 131, JATTW)

Some Final Advice

If you want to acquire liberty of spirt, get to know the following holy souls and their writings:

– St. Therese

– St. Francis de Sales

– St. Gertrude

– Ven. Louis de Blois (Blosius)

– Sr. Benigna Consolata

– Sr. Gertrude Mary

In time, one will imbibe their spirit.

+++++

‘Offer up the sacrifice of justice, and trust in the Lord: many say, Who sheweth us good things?’
(Ps. 4:5)

+++++

“Jesus, be to me a Jesus [i.e. a Saviour]!”

– Part of a prayer given by Our Lord to Sr. Benigna Consolata (The same prayer – minus the word “a” – was recommended by a Visitandine to Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos)

+++++

“My Jesus, my only God, my All, I conjure Thee to bury me so deeply in Thy Sacred Heart that I may never be able to come forth.”

– Part of a prayer given by Our Lord to Sr. Benigna Consolata

[This post is dedicated to my Superior and spiritual Father, who gave me permission to spend a greater length of time completing this article.]

+BENEDICTUS DEUS+

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Aspirations: An Easy Way to Attain Holiness and Joy

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“There is nothing better than the practice of aspirations, steadily growing in number.”

– Fr. William Doyle

Fr. Faber, in his fantastic work, ‘All for Jesus,’ writes that ejaculatory prayer “… was the chief practice of the Fathers of the Desert, by which they raised themselves to such heights of sanctity.” This can hardly be disputed; for prayer elevates the heart to God – and union with God is the essence of sanctity.

Ejaculations (or aspirations) are simply short prayers, “short, ardent movements of the heart,” which can be recited with one’s lips or prayed in one’s heart. St. Francis de Sales says that “the great fabric of devotion leans upon this exercise.” “No one,” he says, “can be excused from making this practice because it can be made while coming and going about one’s business.”

The Saints and Aspirations

Many of the Saints made frequent use of aspirations; this fact should be sufficient to incline us towards this pious exercise. Among the Saints who made frequent use of aspirations, we may include the following: St. Paul of the Cross, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Gemma Galgani, St. Alphonsus Liguori, St. Alphonsa, St. Therese, St. Gertrude, St. Leonard of Port Maurice and St. Bartholomew. We may also add Bl. Mariam, Sr. Benigna Consolata, Fr. Paul O’Sullivan, Fr. William Doyle, Sr. Consolata Betrone and many others to this list!

The Necessity of Aspirations

“Without this exercise,” writes St. Francis de Sales, “we cannot properly lead the contemplative life, and we can but poorly lead the active life.” It is principally in prayer – especially in silent contemplation, which is “mother of the wisest thoughts” (St. Diadochus) – that the heart and mind are elevated to God.

“Elevate thy heart to God by continual acts of love.”

– Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata (d. 1916)

Without frequent prayer, the mind wanders and the heart follows suit. Conversely, if we make a habit of addressing frequent aspirations to God, the consuming fire of His Love will descend into our poor hearts and minds, enlighten and inflame them, and divinize the least of our actions, giving them incomparable value. By means of frequent aspirations, God will unite Himself to us ever more intimately!

“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… 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.”

– Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez

“It was only by constant practice,” says St. Robert Bellarmine, “that the saints obtained the spirit of prayer.” St. Gertrude, for example, repeated the prayer: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven,” three hundred and sixty-five times a day.

If we wish to save our souls, we should make a firm resolution to pray at least 100 or so aspirations every day. What could be easier? What better way to follow Our Lord’s injunction to ‘pray without ceasing’ (1 Thess. 5:17)! “Without any constraint we may make scores of them in a day; and each one is more to God than a battle gained, or a scientific discovery, or a crystal palace, or a change of ministry, or a political revolution.” (Fr. Faber)

“The great work of our perfection,” writes St. Francis de Sales, “is born, grows, and maintains its life by means of two small but precious exercises – aspirations and spiritual retirement. An aspiration is a certain springing of the soul towards God, and the more simple it is, the more valuable. It consists in simply beholding what He is, and what He has done and is doing for us; and it should excite the heart, as a consequence, to acts of humility, love, resignation or abandonment, according to circumstances. Now, these two exercises have an incredible power to keep us in our duty, to support us in temptation, to lift us up promptly after falls and to unite us closely to God. Besides, they can be made at any time or place, and with all possible ease; therefore, they ought to be as familiar to us as the inspiration and expiration of air from our lungs.”

Seven Fruits of Aspirations

“Many of these ejaculations are indulgenced, and thus the same little brief sentence will:

  1. Gain merit
  2. Impetrate grace
  3. Satisfy for sin
  4. Glorify God
  5. Honour Jesus and His Mother
  6. Convert sinners
  7. Soothe with substantial indulgence the Holy souls in Purgatory.

Can we do nothing more for Jesus in this respect than we have done hitherto?” (Fr. Faber)

Our Lord said to Sr. Consolata Betrone that if she would focus her attention on loving Him, He would take care of everything in her life; He would guide her, keep her from grave sin, inspire her with the right words… everything! The same promise was given by Jesus to St. Margaret Mary, who, after having made a complex vow of perfection, was assured by Our Lord that if she directed her attention to loving Him, He would see to it that she satisfies her vows. “[Y]ou will satisfy all by loving Me without reserve,” He said.

“I want you,” writes Fr. William Doyle, “to stick to two things: the aspirations and the tiny acts of self -conquest… Two wings by which we can fly to God and become saints: the habit of little tiny acts of self-denial and the habit of making a definite fixed number of aspirations every day… As regards counting the aspirations, if you really find that it is a strain on your tired head, give up the practice.”

Some Aspirations of the Saints

“My beloved and despised Redeemer, how sweet it is to suffer for You.” – St. Alphonsus

“Do with me, O Lord, as you will and know to be best.” – St. Philip Neri

“O my Lord! O Divine Goodness! when wilt Thou give me the grace to be entirely Thine, and to love only Thee?” – St. Vincent de Paul

“Have mercy on me. O Jesus, have mercy on me!” – St. Leonard of Port Maurice

“My Jesus, mercy!” – St. Leonard, St. Gemma Galgani, Bl. Mariam etc.

“My God and my all!”  – St. Francis of Assisi

Some Aspirations from Heaven

Our Lord revealed the following aspirations to Berthe Petit, St. Faustina, Sr. Consolata Betrone, and Yvonne-Aimee, respectively.

“Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!”

“Jesus, I trust in You!”

“Jesus, Mary, I love You! Save souls!”

“O Jesus, King of Love, I put my trust in Thy loving mercy!”

“The act of love also has value

because it eliminates from the spiritual life so many Marthas,

their being ‘turbaris erga plurima’ (troubled about many things).” (Lk. 10:41)

– Jesus to Sr. Consolata Betrone

 

 

Prayer and Suffering

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“Be apostles, like him [St. Padre Pio, who modelled his life on the Divine Master], of prayer and suffering!”

– Pope St. John Paul II, addressing the “Servants of Suffering,” Dec 2, 2004

“You cannot conceive,” said Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez, “how great is the reparatory value of suffering.” Suffering, you see, nourishes and perfects love, and it is love alone that has any value in God’s eyes; it is love alone that save souls.

Do not think that “suffering” means unpleasantness. Quite the contrary. It may be the case that certain sufferings are unpleasant to bear; but our God is the God of joy. “Joy is the echo of God’s life in us.” (Bl. Dom Columba Marmion) The Cross is necessary to perfect our love, which is the cause of our joy. Here is a simple formula to remember this truth:

  1. Charity (love) unites us to God, the Source of joy.
  2. Suffering nourishes and perfects love, thereby uniting us more intimately to God.
  3. Therefore suffering nourishes and perfects joy.

Bl. Charles de Foucauld, most likely moved by love and humility, sometimes felt guilty that he was the unworthy recipient of such intense joy. He wanted to suffer like and for his Saviour. But, like Bl. Charles, we must remember that joy is a fruit of love; we can no more refuse this gift of God than a flower can refuse its fruit.

‘And not only so; but we glory also in tribulations, knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience trial; and trial hope; And hope confoundeth not: because the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us.’ (Rom. 5:3-5)

If we suffer, let us praise God; if we experience joy, let us praise Him!

***

Joy is still compatible with sorrow; don’t think that our union with God can be measured by feelings:

https://littlestsouls.wordpress.com/2015/04/22/joy-in-the-spiritual-life-q-a/

***

“Prayer, all prayer,” says Servant of God Fr. John A. Hardon, “is always efficacious. But prayer takes on extraordinary power to win graces, for the one praying and for all mankind, when it is united with patient suffering.”

Next time you suffer or make a sacrifice – be it ever so little – do it for God alone (and by extension, for souls, who are so dear to Him). “God and souls.” (St. Faustina)

Some Powerful Quotes About Prayer and Suffering

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

 “… by it [suffering] many more souls are saved than by the best of sermons.” – Little St. Therese (on the day of her canonization) to Servant of God Teresa Neumann

“It is blindness to avoid pain even in very small things, for not only is it of great worth to ourselves, but it serves to guard many from the torments of Hell.” – Sr. Josefa Menendez

“You know that sin is an infinite offense and needs infinite reparation . . . that is why I ask you to offer up your sufferings and labors in union with the infinite merits of My Heart. You know that My Heart is yours. Take It, therefore, and repair by It.”

– Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez

 

JOY in the Spiritual Life: Q + A

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

“The greatest joy which it is possible to taste on earth is to possess God, God alone… And little souls do taste this.” – Sr. Consolata Betrone (Jesus Appeals to the World,’ Saint Pauls/Alba House) 

 “Give up your own will, if you want to be little.” – Our Lady to St. Bridget (Bk 4, Ch 18)

+ Thank you ‘edarlitrix’ for the article idea. God bless you, friend.

CONTENTS 

  1. What is joy?
  2. Is joy compatible with sorrow?
  3. If joy is not felt, can it be called joy?
  4. Joy amidst suffering: the example of the Saints
  5. How can suffering and joy coexist?
  6. Purity of heart: the key to abiding joy
  7. How do we attain purity of heart/intention?
  8. Only God can give us true joy
  9. The Eucharist: the Source of all joy
  10. Some final questions
  1. WHAT IS JOY?

Joy can be described as spiritual contentment, resulting from the possession of a desired good. Authentic joy consists in the possession of God, Who alone can satisfy our hearts, which thirst for Infinite Truth (satisfaction of the intellect) and Infinite Love (satisfaction of the will).

“Now joy,” writes St. Thomas, “is compared to desire, as rest to movement… and rest is full when there is no more movement. Hence joy is full, when there remains nothing to be desired.”

Our hearts were made by God and for God, the Sovereign Good. Only in Heaven will our joy be complete: ‘Enter into the joy of thy Lord.’ (Matthew 25:21). There, the risen body will partake of the soul’s delights, without hindrance. Also, according to sound theology, the risen body will have its own unique delights.

  1. IS JOY COMPATIBLE WITH SORROW?

St. Thomas answers in the affirmative (ST, Second Part of Second Part, Q. 28, Article 2). In this “valley of tears”, our joys are often mingled with sorrow. As we grow in love, we also become more sensitive to sin, which abounds in the world. The sight of our loved ones suffering is enough to render our joy imperfect.

Again, only in Heaven will our joy be perfect; for it is there that ‘God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes: and death shall be no more, nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more, for the former things are passed away.’  (Rev. 21:4)

  1. IF JOY IS NOT FELT, CAN IT BE CALLED JOY?

Yes, for if we return to the definition of joy (i.e. “spiritual contentment, resulting from the possession of a desired good”) and to St. Thomas, we will see that joy does not properly consist in feelings. It is quite possible to experience intense fear and joy at the same time, for example.

As it is not a physical thing, joy cannot be reduced to a feeling or an emotion. In saying that, joy does imply peace and contentment – at least at the spiritual or intellectual level. To understand what this means, we must distinguish between the inferior part of the soul and the superior.

The superior part of the soul, in simple terms, refers to the spirit, whereby man is distinct from the animals. Man can know and love – these are spiritual faculties. The inferior part of the soul, in simple terms, refers to our emotions.

It is possible for the superior part of the soul to possess joy, while the inferior part of the soul is beset by all kinds of trouble, such as fear, restlessness and violent movements of the passions (e.g. anger).

  1. JOY AMIDST SUFFERING: THE EXAMPLE OF THE SAINTS

It is a fact that many of the Saints suffered indescribably. It is also a fact that many – if not all – of the Saints were full of peace and joy. “To suffer for God is the highest joy and delight,” says St. Crescentia; “but not to be able to love Him enough is a great martyrdom.” “When suffering is accepted with love,” says St. Therese, “it is no longer suffering, but it is changed into joy.” Such expressions are not uncommon amongst the Saints.

In his personal diary, for Christmas Day, Bl. Dom Marmion writes: “Aridity and temptations. Deo gratias (Thanks be to God).” This same holy Abbot – an astounding theologian, whose doctrine is very practical and consoling – writes: “In finding God, we shall likewise possess joy… It is impossible to explain the abundance of this peace in the soul altogether given to God and seeking Him alone.” These are the words of a man who underwent long interior trials, and who experienced bouts of depression. But these sufferings have ended for him, and they shall never again touch him; for he is now experiencing unimaginable happiness ‘in sinu Patris’ – in the Bosom of the Father (Jn. 1:18).

When we suffer, let us not forget this: the Cross, borne willingly, unites us more intimately to God, and leads to Paradise.

Jesus to Ven. Concepcion Cabrera de Armida:

“During my life, I never desired anything except the Cross, and ever the Cross, wanting to show the world that which is the sole wealth and happiness on earth, the currency which will buy an eternal happiness.”

  1. HOW CAN SUFFERING AND JOY COEXIST? 

We might wonder how anyone could maintain joy amidst terrible suffering. The answer is simple: by LOVE. (A supernatural love, that is). Love alone will transform our very sufferings into joy.

Jesus to Sr. Consolata Betrone:

“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!”

The greater the flame of Divine Love that burns in our hearts, the more rapidly will the wood of the Cross be consumed, thereby producing an ardent and pure charity – a delightful charity that is incomparably sweet; a charity that increases our knowledge of God (God is both Love and Light); a charity that gives us strength (God is both Love and Power); a charity that draws down an abundance of grace; a charity that increases our confidence in God’s love and in the hope of an eternal reward; a charity that renders our trials light and sweet; a charity that increasingly finds its pleasure in pleasing God. And because God is infinite Love, we can always love Him more (Fr. Paul of Moll). Consequently, there is no limit to the joy that God offers us!

The greater our love for God, the greater will be our knowledge of Him; and the greater our knowledge of Him, the greater will be our delight in serving Him. “Jesus told Mother Clement that the secret of happiness is to abandon oneself to the power of God’s love; acting in this way, He teaches us to know the Divine Perfections, which produce in us a perpetual admiration, complaisance and adoration.” (Rev. Auguste Saudreau)

Even the smallest suffering accepted for the love of God, increases our union with Him. And what more could the Saints desire – or can we desire – than God? What more can we hope for than the love, the friendship, the protection, and the grace of God? “The good of the grace of one soul,” writes St. Thomas Aquinas, “is greater than the good of the nature of the whole universe.” “Do you not actually possess all things if you have Him who possesses all?” (Peter de Blois).

The joy of the Saints, you see, was a result of their pure love for God. They desired God alone. Because they had given themselves to Him entirely, they were assured of His love, His grace and His protection. ‘I love them that love me: and they that in the morning early watch for me, shall find me.’  (Prov. 8:17) The joy of the Saints was constant because they were ever seeking God.

God to St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi:

‘WHO WOULD HARM YOU IF YOU SOUGHT NOTHING BUT GOOD?… IF THEN YOU RETURN TO ME, WHO AM YOUR PRINCIPLE, AS THE RIVERS RETURN TO THE SEA FROM WHICH THEY CAME, YOU WILL ENJOY PERPETUAL HAPPINESS, BECAUSE YOU WILL LIVE IN ME – WHO AM THE LIFE OF YOUR SOUL AND YOUR SOVEREIGN GOOD.’ 

  1. PURITY OF HEART: THE KEY TO ABIDING JOY

‘To those who love God, all things work together unto good’ (Rom. 8:28).

Commenting on the above Scripture, St. Alphonsus writes: “Those who love God are always happy, because their whole happiness is to fulfil, even in adversity, the will of God. Afflictions do not mar their serenity, because by accepting misfortune, they know they give pleasure to their beloved Lord: ‘Whatever shall befall the just man, it shall not make him sad.’ (Proverbs 12:21).”

What an excellent definition of purity of heart: “To fulfil, even in adversity, the will of God.” In other words, we must seek “God alone, God only” (Jesus to Sr. Gertrude Mary).In joys, seek Him; in trials, seek Him; in doubts, seek Him*. Thank Him for everything that comes from His loving Providence. Believe that God permits nothing that is not for our greater good. This disposition of heart and mind, this living faith, is necessary if we are to experience true peace. If our hearts are set on self, sin, created things, or on creatures, then we cannot experience true peace; our heart will be torn in a thousand different directions.[*This does not always require an explicit intention before or during everything we do; love, says St. Augustine, is essentially rooted in a desire of the heart]

The more generous we are with God, the more generous He is with us. If we are all His, He is all ours! “My child,” said the Infant Jesus to St. Crescentia, “give Me thy heart, and everything that I possess is thine.” He repeats these same words to us: ‘My son, give me thy heart: and let thy eyes keep my ways’ (Proverbs 23:26).

  1. HOW DO WE ATTAIN PURITY OF HEART/INTENTION? 

Persevering prayer is the key to purity of heart. Constant, confident prayer obtains all. Without confidence, there can be no joy. ‘Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, as we have hoped in thee.’ (Ps. 33:22) Without prayer, we can accomplish nothing. How can we draw closer to God if we refuse prayer, which is the key to His grace and mercy?

All of us can pray with confidence. Although it is true that the power of a just soul’s prayer is immense, it is also true that God denies His grace to no one who asks with confidence and humility.  Let us listen to the words of Rev. P.J. Michel (in his excellent work, ‘Spiritual Despondency and Temptations’); they are profoundly consoling; and furthermore, they are supported by several dogmas of the Church. The author writes:

The saints did not hope in God because they were faithful to God, but they were faithful to God because they hoped in Him. Otherwise the sinner could never make an act of hope, and yet it is that very act of hope which disposes him to return to God.  Observe that St. Paul does not say, I have obtained mercy because I have been faithful, but “Having obtained mercy of the Lord, to be faithful” (i Cor. vii. 25). Mercy always precedes the good which we do; and it is from mercy alone that we have the necessary grace to do any good at all. The saints never counted upon their works to strengthen their confidence in God, for they were ever mindful of the words of Our Saviour: “So you also, when you shall have done all these things that are commanded you, say: “We are unprofitable servants” (Luke xvii. 10)… Unlike the Pharisee in the Gospel, they [the Saints] found nothing in themselves to warrant their confidence, but in the mercy of God they sought and found a confidence, the foundations of which could not be shaken. This was what supported them, and this it is which must encourage you, and reanimate your fainting strength. It is of the utmost importance for you to understand this truth, that you may not again fall into the snare which your enemy has so often laid for you.”  [Source: https://archive.org/stream/spiritualdespond00gareuoft#page/n5/mode/2up]

Let us pray, then, with unshakeable confidence! As soon as our soul is touched by grace, let us hasten to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is an abyss of love and mercy. Do not think that any hardness of heart is an obstacle to God’s mercy; if it were, He would not inspire us to seek Him. Our greatest obstacle to union with God, apart from self–seeking, is a lack of confidence in His goodness.

Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata:

“Knowest thou what souls profit most by My goodness? Those who trust the most. Trusting souls are the robbers of My graces. Write that the pleasure I take in the trusting soul is inexpressible.”

  1. ONLY GOD CAN GIVE US TRUE JOY 

“Only that which is eternal can satisfy us.” (St. Therese). Created goods cannot satisfy us; they were made for us, not we for them (as God said to St. Catherine of Siena). Likewise, human love cannot satisfy our hearts. Only God can satisfy our hearts. He is the cause of every good that we see in the world; He is the Eternal Fountain from which pours forth every good. ‘Every best gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change, nor shadow of alteration’ (Jn. 1:17).

Consider that all the love, knowledge and joy of the Elect is merely a participation in the limitless abyss of God’s love! All of these things can be found in Jesus to an infinite degree.

We have every reason to be generous with God, and not a single good reason to be selfish. Let us pray frequently, receive the Sacraments devoutly, and ‘attend unto [spiritual] reading’ (1 Tim. 4:13). When we die, we will have to account for all the graces that we have abused. How little do we esteem grace!

‘Peace to men of good–will.’ “If you are at peace, you have the seed of this joy that will come.” (Pope Francis) Only those who are generous with God can experience the abundance of peace that He offers. ‘You shall seek me, and shall find me: when you shall seek me with all your heart.’ (Jer. 29:13) Like St. Paul, we must ‘die daily’ to sin, so that we may rise with Christ, Who is ‘the Resurrection and the Life.’

  1. THE EUCHARIST: THE SOURCE OF ALL JOY 

‘He that spared not even his own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how hath He not also, with Him, given us all things?’ (Rm. 8:32). How admirably are these words fulfilled in the Holy Eucharist! If we seek joy, there we shall find it! The Eucharist is truly the Risen Christ; veiled under the appearance of bread and wine is He Who said to St. Thomas: “Put in thy finger hither, and see my hands; and bring hither thy hand, and put it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing.” (Jn. 20:27) The Adorable Eucharist is the Ultimate Source of Strength and Holiness.

“If anyone denies that in the sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist are contained truly, really and substantially the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently the whole Christ, but says that He is in it only as in a sign, or figure or force, let him be anathema.” (Session 8, Canon 1: Canons on the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist)

  1. SOME FINAL QUESTIONS
  1. Was Jesus always joyful?

There is a great mystery here. Jesus, from Whom all good things come (including joy), chose to suffer unimaginably in His Sacred Humanity. The Divinity cannot suffer. It is in this sense that we are to understand the following words of Jesus to St. Margaret of Cortona: “All the time I was on earth, My body had not one completely happy day, nevertheless while My friends are here below I intoxicate them with the joys of Heaven and give them rest and peace.”

  1. What does the following Bible passage mean: ‘Extinguish not the spirit’(1 Thess. 5:19)?

Fr. Haydock writes: “Do not oppose either the interior gifts of the holy Spirit, which are his graces, nor his exterior gifts of prophecy…” We do this by setting up obstacles in our souls: pride, disobedience, distrust and the like. This admonition is not referring to souls of good–will; if they trust in God and continue to ‘seek first the Kingdom,’ God will fill them with His peace in time. The feelings of our sensitive nature (to be understood in a Thomistic sense) are not necessarily an indicator of our interior dispositions, nor are they a good guide to the spiritual life.

On the contrary, God wants to perfect our joy by perfecting our charity; and this transformation can only be effected by means of the crucible of suffering, which purifies, enlightens and strengthens.

“What happiness to resign ourselves absolutely to Our Lord, submitting our will to His, adoring Him in tribulation and in consolation, in sorrow and in joy, doing whatever He wills like little children!… He knows best what we need.” (St. Francis de Sales)

Let the following words (which are believed to have been addressed to St. Catherine of Siena by the Eternal Father) sink into your heart:

“The light of faith ought also to teach you that I know, I will and I can bring about your happiness better than yourself. You can do, know, and will nothing without My grace. You should, therefore, try your utmost to submit your will completely to the Will of God. If you do this, your soul will remain in peace, and you will always have Me with you, for I dwell in peace.”

  1. Why is there so much sorrow in the world?

Because God is scarcely known and scarcely loved. Faith is weak and sin abounds. “In thy amazement then,” said Our Lady to Ven. Mary of Agreda; “my dearest, weep ceaselessly over the terrible loss sustained by so many insane and thankless souls, who are forgetful of God, of their duty and of their own selves… Catholics should bear in mind more constantly the passion and death of the Lord, because the Church so often recalls it to their remembrance, although few show themselves grateful… I wish also that thou lament with great sorrow the fact that Judas, in his malice and treachery, has many more followers than Christ. Many are the infidels, many the bad Catholics, many the hypocrites, who under the name of a Christian, sell and deliver Him and wish to crucify Him anew… No torment, nor death itself, would I have refused, if such had been necessary to save any of the damned, and to save them, I would have esteemed all sufferings a sweet alleviation in my most ardent charity… continue to pray [for the salvation of souls]: for thou canst scarcely imagine how acceptable are such prayers to the Almighty.”

Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata:

“To exercise Justice is for Me to go against the current; it does violence to Me…”

  1. How can I infallibly attain peace?

Be little. “I want you in My arms,” said Jesus to Bl. Alexandrina (a bedridden stigmatic), “with the same simplicity of a baby in those of its mother.” “Give up your own will,” as Our Lady said to St. Bridget, and seek only God’s good–pleasure. He will remove any obstacles to your peace; but this will happen in God’s good timing. Believe me. I used to be consumed by sorrow; but I kept asking God for light, and He heard my wavering prayers in a miraculous manner. Deo gratias!

  1. Are there any good online resources on joy?

There are two that spring to mind. The first deals indirectly with joy in so far as it gives us reasons to believe in the immense goodness of God.

  1. ‘Decalogue of Confidence’ (dictated by Our Lord to Sr. Benigna Consolata on September 11, 1915): https://littlestsouls.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/decalogue-of-confidence-3/

The second is very beautiful. I happened to “stumble upon” this chapter while at Eucharistic Adoration. This was quite fitting, as it relates perfectly to what has been said in this article. It is a very encouraging read.

  1. ‘Love, Peace and Joy,’ by Rev. Andre Prevot; ‘Twenty–fifth day: ‘THE LIFE OF JOY IN THE HEART OF JESUS, ACCORDING TO ST. GERTRUDE): https://archive.org/stream/lovepeaceandjoya00prevuoft#page/162/mode/2up

Pax Domini!

‘REJOICE in the Lord ALWAYS; again, I say, rejoice’

(Philippians 4:4)

 

Consolation for Scrupulous Souls (Some Advice from St. Alphonsus)

Jesus to St. Veronica Giuliani: ‘… tell everything to him who holds My place [the priest]. Be obedient to him; do whatever he commands. You can never be mistaken when you are obedient.’ (p. 264, Vol. 2)

The following words, though addressed to all – and which contain some very helpful advice for the spiritual life – will be particularly appreciated by those who are inclined to doubts, fears, scruples and the like. The words are taken from ‘The Way of Salvation and Perfection,’ (pp.451–460; Ch VI. Interior Trials):

“… the chief thing they [scrupulous souls] ought to consider is this: that he who acts in obedience to a learned and pious confessor, acts not only with no doubt, but with the greatest security that can be had upon earth, on the divine words of Jesus Christ, that he who hears his ministers is as though he heard himself: He that heareth you heareth Me; whence St. Bernard says, “Whatever man enjoins in the place of God, provided it be not certainly displeasing to God, is altogether to be received as though enjoined by God.” It is certain that, as to the personal direction of conscience, the confessor is the lawful superior, as St Francis de Sales, with all spiritual instructors, declares, while F. Pinamonti, in his Spiritual Director, says: “It is well to make the scrupulous perceive, that submitting their will to the ministers of the Lord provides them the greatest security in all that is not manifestly sin. Let them read the lives of the saints, and they will find that they know no safer road than obedience. The saints plainly trusted more to the voice of their confessor than to the immediate voice of God; and yet the scrupulous would lean more on their own judgment than on the Gospel, which assures them, He that heareth you heareth Me.”

The Blessed Henry Suso says, that “God demands no account from us of things done under obedience.” St. Philip Neri says the same: “Let such as desire to advance in the way of God submit themselves to a learned confessor, and obey him in God’s stead; let him who thus acts assure himself that he will have to render no account to God for his actions.” He says, moreover, that one should have all faith in one’s confessor, on the ground that God would not permit him to err; and that there is nothing that more surely cuts asunder the snares of the devil than to do the will of another in what is good, nor anything more full of danger than to be guiding ourselves according to what seems best to us; which is confirmed by St. John of the Cross, who says, in the name of the Lord: “When thou art unfaithful to confessors, thou art so unto Me, who have said, He that despiseth you despiseth Me.” And again: “Not to rest satisfied with what the confessor says is pride and failure in faith.” We are, therefore, to have this certain confidence, that each person, in obeying his spiritual Father, may be sure of not sinning. “The sovereign remedy for the scrupulous,” says St. Bernard, “is a blind obedience to their confessor.” John Gerson relates, that the same St. Bernard told one of his disciples, who was scrupulous, to go and celebrate, and take his word for it. He went, and was cured of his scruples.

“But a person may answer,” says Gerson, “Would to God I had a St. Bernard for my director! but mine is one of indifferent wisdom.” And he answers, “Thou dost err, whoever thou art that so speakest; for thou hast not given thyself into the hands of the man because he is well read, etc., but because he is placed over thee; wherefore obey him not as man, but as God.” For this reason St. Teresa well said, “Let the soul accept the confessor with a determination to think no more of personal excuses, but to trust in the words of the Lord, He that heareth you heareth Me. The Lord so highly values this submission, that when, in spite of a thousand inward conflicts, and considering the decision to be an absurd one, we execute it nevertheless, cost us what it may, the Lord so assists us,” etc.; and she goes on to say, that we then comply with his divine will. Hence St. Francis de Sales, speaking of direction from a spiritual Father in order to walk securely in the way of God, says, “This is the very counsel of all counsels.” “Search as much as you will,” says the devout Avila, “you will in no way discover the will of God so surely as by the path of that humble obedience which is so much recommended and practised by the devout of former times.” Thus, too, Alvarez said, “Even if the spiritual Father should err, the obedient soul is secure from error, because it rests on the judgment of him whom God has given it as a superior.” And F. Nieremberg writes to the same effect: “Let the soul obey the confessor; and then, although the thing itself were matter of fault, he does not sin who does it with the intention of obeying him who holds to him the place of God, persuading himself (as is, indeed, the case) that he is bound to obey him;” forasmuch as (according to the words of F. Rogacci and F. Lessius) the confessor is to us the interpreter of the divine will. And this is confirmed also by the gloss: “But if what is prescribed be of a doubtful kind, the virtue of obedience exempts from sin, although the thing in itself be evil;” and in the chapter Inquisition de Sent, exc., from the same text, obedience to the confessor is enjoined, when it says that scruples “ought to be dismissed at the judgment of one’s pastor.”

St. Francis de Sales gives three maxims of great consolation to the scrupulous: “An obedient soul has never been lost; 2. We ought to rest satisfied with knowing from our spiritual Father that we are going on well, without seeking a personal knowledge of it; 3. The best thing is to walk on blindly through all the darkness and perplexity of this life, under the providence of God.”

And therefore all the doctors of morals conclude, in general, with St. Antoninus, Navarro, Silvester, etc., that obedience to the confessor is the safest rule for walking well in the ways of God. F. Tirillo and F. La Croix say that this is the common doctrine of the holy Fathers and masters of the spiritual life. In the second place, the scrupulous should know, not only that they are safe in obeying, but that they are bound to obey their director, and to despise the scruple, acting with all freedom in the midst of their doubts. This is the teaching of Natalis Alexander: “That scruples ought to be despised when one has the judgment of a prudent, pious, and learned director; and that one ought to act against them is plain from the chapter Inquisitioni,” etc., as above; and of Father Wigandt: “He who acts against scruples does not sin; nay, sometimes it is a precept to do so, especially when backed by the judgment of the confessor. So do these authors speak, although they belong to the rigid school; so, too, the doctors in general; and the reason is, that if the scrupulous man lives in his scruples, he is in danger of placing grievous impediments in the way of satisfying his obligations, or, at least, of making any spiritual progress; and, moreover, of going out of his mind, losing his health, and destroying his conscience by despair or by relaxation.

Hence St. Antoninus agrees with Gerson in thus reproving the scrupulous, who, through a vain fear, is not obedient in overcoming his scruples: “Beware lest, from overmuch desire to walk securely, thou fall and destroy thyself.” For this reason F. Wigandt also says, that the scrupulous man ought to obey his director in all cases where the precept is not plainly sin, “unless the director enjoins what is manifestly against God;” and it is the general and undoubted decision among Doctors, that in things doubtful each one is bound to obey him who is placed over him, if it be not evidently a sin. This is proved by St. Bernard in a passage quoted at the commencement; and by St. Ignatius Loyola, who says: “There must be obedience in all things in which no sin is perceived, that is, in which there is not manifest sin.” Also by Blessed Humbert, General of the Friars Preachers, who says: “Unless the precept be plainly evil, it is to be received as though enjoined by God.” Moreover, by Blessed Denis the Carthusian: “In things doubtful as to whether or not they are against the divine precept, one must stand by the precept of him who is set over one; because, although it should be against the precept of God, yet, in virtue of obedience, the person under direction sins not.” Of the same opinion is St. Bonaventure. This makes Gerson say: “The scrupulous are to act against their scruples, and plant their feet firmly in resisting them. We cannot set scruples to rest better than by despising them; and, as a general rule, not without the advice of another, and especially our Superior. Otherwise, either ill–regulated fear or inconsiderate presumption will be our fall.” “With a firm foot,” says he, “they ought to overcome the scruple.”

And so the remedy that St. Philip Neri gave the scrupulous was, to make them despise their scruples. It is thus written in his life: “Moreover, besides the general remedy of committing one’s self altogether and for everything to the judgment of the confessor, he gave another, by exhorting his penitents to despise their scruples. Hence he forbade such persons to confess often; and when, in confession, they entered upon their scruples, he used to send them to Communion without hearing them.” So, then, in conclusion, the scrupulous man ought to set before himself obedience, and look upon his scrupulous fear as vain, and so act with freedom. Nor does this require (say the Doctors Busembaum, with Sanchez and others) that in each particular act he should expressly determine that the thing is a scruple, and that he ought to obey his confessor in despising it; it is enough that he act against it in virtue of a judgment made beforehand, since, from his past experience, the same judgment resides in his conscience habitually or virtually, though dim and confused. Hence La Croix and Tamburini, together with Vasquez, Val., etc., add, that if he who is scrupulous be unable amid that darkness to lay aside his scruple at once, or call clearly to mind the obedience laid on him by the confessor, which some anxious consciences are disabled from doing, perplexed as they are how to put by their scruple, by reason of the fear that weighs upon them, in that case he does not sin, though he act with a positive fear of sinning; and for this reason that as he has already passed a like judgment upon former scruples, and on the duty of obeying the injunction given him to despise them, he ought assuredly to believe himself to possess it now also, though, from the force of his fear, he does not perceive it.

But the scrupulous ought at such a time to despise the fear, inasmuch as it forms no true verdict of conscience. Hear how Gerson openly confirms this point, and what advice he gives: “A formed conscience is, when, after discussion and deliberation, a definite sentence of the reason judges that a thing is to be done or to be avoided; and to act against this is a sin: but fear or scruple of conscience is, when the mind wavers in doubt, not knowing which of two things it is bound to do, and yet would not omit whatever it could ascertain to be agreeable to the divine will; and this fear is as much as possible to be cast away and quenched.” In fact, then, Gerson says that a person sins by acting under a practical doubt, when the doubt proceeds from a formed conscience; but that this formed conscience exists when, after examining the circumstances, he deliberately judges with a definitive sentence on what he is obliged and what he is forbidden to do; and he sins by acting against such a conscience as this. But that, when the mind is doubtful and wavering, and yet would not do anything that was displeasing to God, this, says Gerson, is no true doubtfulness, but a vain fear, which ought as much as possible to be cast away and despised. So that when there certainly exists in the scrupulous person the habitual will not to offend God, it is certain (according to Gerson) that while he acts in his doubtfulness he does not sin; and with reason, since it is then not a true doubt, although he may apprehend it to be a doubt, but a vain fear.

On the other hand, it is certain, that for the commission of a mortal sin there is required a full perception on the part of the reason, and a complete deliberate consent on the part of the will, and to will something which grievously offends God. This doctrine is undoubted, and common to all the theologians, and even to the most rigid, as Juenin, Habert, and that most rigorous of all, Genet, who speaks thus: “But if (the act) contain only an imperfect degree of deliberation, the sin will be venial, not mortal.” And this, too, is the teaching of all the rest, with St. Thomas, who says: “That which is mortal may be venial, owing to the act being imperfect, since it does not absolutely amount to the perfection of a mortal act, being not deliberate, but sudden.”

Let scrupulous souls, then, suffer this cross of theirs with resignation, and not perplex themselves in the greatest distresses which God may send or permit. It is for their profit, to the end that they may be humbler, may guard better against such occasions as are beyond doubt and seriously dangerous, may commend themselves oftener to the Lord, and put a more entire trust in the divine goodness. Meanwhile let them often have recourse to the most holy Virgin Mary, who is called, and is in truth, the Mother of Mercy, and comforter of the afflicted. Let them, indeed, fear to offend God, wherever they do in truth discern what will offend him; but if only they are steadfast in resolving rather to die a thousand times than lose the grace of God, let them, above all things, fear lest they fail in obedience to their directors. On the other hand, while they blindly obey, they may assure themselves of not being abandoned by that Lord who will have all men saved, and who, loving good–will as he does, never suffers a really obedient soul to perish.

No one hath hoped in the Lord, and hath been confounded. Casting all your care upon Him, for He hath care of you. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? In peace in the self-same I will sleep and I will rest; for Thou, O Lord, singularly hast settled me in hope. In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped; let me never be confounded.”

Words from the Saints and Mystics on Humility

Words from the Saints and Mystics on Humility

“Humility is Truth.” (St. Padre Pio). The humble soul lives in the infused light of truth; she realises that “everything is grace” (St. Therese); she is necessarily joyful because she is well acquainted with Our Lord, Who is Truth and … Continue reading

Why Holiness Brings Unspeakable Joy to the Soul!

“It is certain that your happiness consists in perfect renunciation of yourself. I will fill you with My grace in the same degree as you empty yourself of your will.”

– The Eternal Father to St. Catherine of Siena

I die daily, says St. Paul (1 Corinthians 15:31).  The death of which he speaks is the death of self-will and self-love. 

Self-will is a form of pride; it elevates our own will above God’s will (which is love, mercy, truth and wisdom itself). By self-will we frustrate (to some extent) God’s almighty plans. We hinder our own happiness. 

Self-love refers to our self-seeking or selfishness, which often taints our actions. A true lover of God seeks God’s glory in all things; she accepts everything as coming from God’s loving Providence, which wills only her sanctification and happiness. Subsequently, the humble soul (one who truly loves God is necessarily humble) bears everything with patience, serernity and love. God is the sole object of her desires.

I die daily. If we are empty of self, God will fill us with Himself. A soul full of selfishness and sinful attachments cannot fully appreciate the joys of union with God, Who is the Source of all joy, all life, all happiness. The saints, who were united intimately with Jesus, experienced His joy as if it were their own. This is a forestaste of Heaven, in which the soul will be united with God like a drop in the ocean.

One day, Mary, the Mother of God, revealed to St. Bridget these beautiful words with which Our Lord addressed a faithful servant of His, upon entering Paradise:  

‘O My friend, you have come to present to Me the vessel of your heart empty of yourself, and you have desired to fill it with Me. Come then and I will fill it with Myself. Be in Me and I shall be in you and your glory and joy will have no end.’

When we seek God above all things, He fills our hearts with peace and joy!

The Eternal Father to St. Catherine of Siena (speaking of perfect souls): ‘Observe that these souls always possess Me in a sensible manner; the more they have rejected pleasures and desired to suffer, the more they have lost sufferings and found joy.’

Jesus said to St. Jane de Chantal: ‘In all this [humiliations, mortifications and rebuffs] My great design is to make them [souls] progress in My love; and if they did this they would infinitely please Me, and I should always be working to please them. My Heart is filled with sweetness and kindness for the souls that love Me and sincerely give themselves to Me; and I give Myself to them with the abundance of My favours; for they are My spouses whom I love tenderly.’ (p. 235)

The Eternal Father to St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi: ‘Suppose, My child, a man to possess every imaginable riches and to be the idol of every creature. If he does not possess Me who alone am true peace, his heart will never be at rest, for I alone can fill the heart of man, because I am Who am, and I fill up the void of whatever is not, and I fill it all the more when the void is greater and creatures better realise their nothingness.’

The Eternal Father to St. Catherine of Siena (speaking of those who live by and for God’s will):

‘Even in her mortal life she tastes the delights of immortality, and in spite of her mortal body she becomes as light as spirit… it is a greater miracle for the soul not to leave the body in this union that it is for several dead bodies to be raised to life.’

(This seems to explain why some of the saints levitated during prayer e.g. St. Joseph of Cupertino, St. Alphonsus Liguori, St. Padre Pio, St. Gemma Galgani etc.)

I could add many similar revelations, but these few are sufficient.

Pax Christi!

 

17 Quotes/Revelations to Inspire Confidence in God’s Love.

God loves us, His beloved creatures. We have been fashioned in His image, and are capable of knowing and loving Him. He desires our love; He desires our union. “Come to Me,” “Love Me,” “Give Me thy heart,” “Speak to Me,” “Console Me,” “Go, seek for souls,” “Take My Cross,” “Give Me your hands,” “Help Me in the redemption of mankind,” “Believe in My love” – each of these words, which were addressed to various mystics, are a reminder of the Gospel message: “I thirst.” Jesus thirsts infinitely for our love.

When we sin, we weaken our union with Him. We cannot go on sinning forever: we must ultimately choose God or sin; the Creator or the creature; Heaven or the World; virtue or vice; eternal beatitude or eternal misery; light or darkness; peace or restlessness; self–will or God’s will. In a word, Our Lord says to each of us: “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength. This is the first commandment.” This commandment is to the soul what medicine is to the body.

Here are some quotes to inspire us with confidence in Him Who loves us more than all others, and Who always has our best interests at heart:

1. “You seek Me, indeed, but know that, however ardently you seek Me, I seek you more ardently still. And it is your fears that prevent your progress in Divine love.” – Jesus to St. Margaret of Cortona

2. “The bee does not fly with greater eagerness to the green meadows than do I to thy soul when it calls Me. Now My Heart is thine and thy heart is Mine.” – Jesus to St. Mechtilde

3. “For when anyone exerts himself to overcome his faults for love of Me, he offers Me the same testimony of fidelity and respect as a soldier would do to his captain when he courageously resisted his enemies in battle, overcoming them all, and casting them to the ground with his own arm.” – Jesus to St. Gertrude

4. “… I can wish for no greater joy than to see men return to Me by repentance and love.”– Jesus to St. Mechtilde

5. “My dove, I supply all the defects of thy love by My love, its littleness by the love of the Heart of Jesus, its weakness by My all–powerful goodness; in short, the Heart of Jesus and thine, Benigne, are united.” – Jesus to Sister Jeanne Benigne Gojos

6. “CONFIDENCE IS THE KEY WHICH OPENS THE TREASURE OF MY MERCY.” – Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata

7. “God loves us so tenderly, that he not only desires, but is solicitous about our welfare… Let us, then always throw ourselves into the hands of God, who so ardently desires and so anxiously watches of our eternal salvation. ‘Casting all our care upon him; for he hath care of you” (1 Pt. 5:7). He who, during life, casts himself into the hands of God, shall lead a happy life and shall die a holy death.” – St. Alphonsus Liguori

8. “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” – St. Augustine

9. “Benigne must learn that a humble soul rarely falls, because God sustains it by pure love.” – Jesus to Sister Jeanne Benigne Gojos

10. “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.” – Words of Our Lord to Mother Deleloë, a Benedictine nun

11. “Since thou dost prefer nothing to Me, and desirest ever to submit Thy will to Mine, it is clear that thou art in grace and charity…” – Jesus to St. Gertrude

12. “The will and desire which thou hast to avoid sin with all thy strength and power are bonds which attract and unite Me to thee so that nothing could ever separate us.” – Jesus to St. Mechtilde

13. “Give Me your heart – that heart which creatures do not know and which they slight; it is more than a universe to Me, because I love you.” – Jesus to Sr. Mary of the Holy Trinity

14. “Can someone pardon and offense committed against someone else? No. And yet, the priest says: ‘I absolve you.’ Why can he say that? Because it is Christ who speaks through his mouth.” – Bl. Dom Columba Marmion

15. “Do not fear anything; you will be my true daughter, and I will always be your good mother.” – Mary to St. Margaret Mary

16. “It is not those who commit the least faults who are most holy, but those who have the greatest courage, the greatest generosity, the greatest love, who make the boldest efforts to overcome themselves, and are not immoderately apprehensive of tripping [a sign of self-love and distrustful pride].” – St. Francis de Sales

17. “I saw that I was created for Heaven, and that by submitting to the commands of God and being tractable to the divine inspirations, I shall enter into that holy city.”

– Sister Jeanne Benigne Gojos

 

Do We Value God’s Love As Our Only Good?

“I would a thousand times rather die than consent to anything which might displease Thee.”

– St. Veronica Giuliani

After reading the lives of the Saints, I am often left wondering: How is it that anyone could possess so much love?!

… After much prayer and consideration I am convinced that the only way to arrive at such love is to love. “We learn to love by loving,” says a Saint. And how exactly do we love God? By doing His will. And what is His will? Our Lord says the following: “Keep My commandments… Take up your cross and follow Me… Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart…”

Charity unites us to God, who is Love itself. The closer the bond, the greater our love. Love is not merely act of the will, nor does it consist in “headwork”, but rather it is “… the result of accepting generously all sacrifices, in accepting with a loving heart all trials” (Saudreau).

After having been purged of their sinful affections, the Saints were able to comprehend the most sublime spiritual truths. Sin appeared to them in all its vileness as nothing more than a detestable thorn in the side of their Beloved; worldly goods and honour were despised as temptations to pride, vanity and self-love, which stain the soul, displease God, and take us far from the narrow gate that leads to eternal life. “No more sin! No more sin!” cried out St. Catherine of Genoa. “Enough of sin! LOVE HIM! LOVE HIM!” exclaimed Bl. Alexandrina. These are the words of souls in love with God; souls who knew that sin has frightful consequences, and that it has nothing to offer us but emptiness; for where sin is, there God is not.

St. Paul was able to exclaim: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ Who lives in Me.” These are the words of one who has reached a state of sublime union with God! These words are not fitting for one who takes delight in sin, however small. It is only in uniting our will with God’s will that we allow His love to act within us, to transform us, and to carve us into beautiful statues fit for the Garden of Paradise!

Jesus suffered excruciating torments for 33 years so that we might give ourselves entirely to Him, just as He offered Himself to us without reserve. We lose nothing by such generosity; on the contrary, we stand to gain eternal life, happiness, the conversion of sinners, peace, and something – or rather, Someone -truly worth living for:

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“Do you not actually possess all things if you have Him who possess all? Nothing is wanting to him to whom God is present, nothing is lacking to him for whom Christ is all-sufficient.”

-Peter de Blois (Serm. 42, in fest. OMnium Sanct. II, col. 691)

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Daily Meditation

As it is impossible to value something that we do not know, let us make a resolution to meditate for at least 15 mins a day (if we do not already do so) on God’s love for us. (All the Saints recommend this, and charity demands it, considering that God’s showers countless graces upon us each day)… We may consider the graces that He has bestowed upon us, what He suffered for us, the countless times He has drawn us from sin to repentance etc. etc.

Here are some pertinent words from a Saint: “When the Blessed Angela of Foligno asked God what she could do to please Him more, He vouchsafed to appear to her several times, both sleeping and waking, always as crucified on the cross, and He told her to look at His wounds, and then showed her, in a marvellous manner, how He had endured all those things for her; and lastly, He said,

“What then can you do for Me which would be enough?”

Another time, as the Bollandists relate, He appeared to her, and said,

“Whosoever wishes to find grace, let him never take his eyes from the cross, whether My providence be visiting him with sorrow, or with joy.”

God can only will what is best for us. We please Him greatly when we place no small value on His love, which is no less in times of adversity than in times of consolation. The truth is, God is the source of all good; the more we come to know the love of God, the more we will see that in Him is everything we need and could possibly desire:

“Give me your heart to place in mine in order that you will have no other love but for me and for the things that are mine.”

– Jesus to Bl. Alexandrina

Pax Domine!

 

 

 

 

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

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… 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