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

 

 

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Daily Revelation and Reflection: The Love of God (#5)

“I desire you not to abandon these three souls, those of your husband and your two children, because I wish them to be saved by your means.”

– Jesus to Bl. Elizabeth Canori–Mora

We should not be anxious over the thought of the “fate” of our loved ones. God loves them more than we do. We only love them because God gives us a share in His love for them. Rather than worry about what we cannot change, we should do what we can to obtain grace for them. The greatest means at our disposal are:

  1. Prayer
  2. Holiness (intimate union with God)
  3. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

“It is by love that one can overcome Almighty God; He is so sensitive to love that He can refuse us nothing.” (Fr. Paul of Moll). The Mass is LOVE.

‘… I am the God who becomes all for you in all things – in a word, all things that a loving soul can desire… And if she devotes herself to the good pleasure of My heart, I feel it necessary to conform Myself to the desire of hers.’

– Jesus to St. Gertrude

A Revelation That Most Catholics Are Saved (Pt. 2)

St. Mechtilde believed that Our Lord said to her that the number of Catholics who go to Heaven when they die, exceeds the number of those who go to Hell (Liber specialis gratiae. In Sanctae Mechtildis, virginis ordinis sancti Benedicti, Liber specialis gratiae accedit sororis Mechtildis ejusdem ordinis Lux divinitatis. Book 6, Chapter 15. Ed. Monks of Solesmes. Paris: Oudin, 1877). Nevertheless, Our Lord assured her that His justice will claim its due; many souls will go to Purgatory before they are pure enough to enter the Kingdom of God.

Whether or not we can apply this revelation to every generation is not certain (private revelations, in themselves, are uncertain*). It may be the case that the majority of Catholics will, in the end, be saved.

Either way, let us thank God for His mercy! And let us not be presumptuous! We will be saved if we seek God with all our heart. If we are tepid in our faith, there is a danger that we will fall from sin to sin, without even realising how far we have fallen. We must imitate the holy monk that St. Leonard tells us about, who said that, even if one soul were damned, he would do absolutely everything in his power not to be that soul.

*Still, if they are consistent with Church teaching, and if they have been given to a humble and obedient soul, such as St. Mechtilde, then we are safe in believing them, so long as we subordinate them to the Magisterium… This site only quotes from the revelations of those whose virtue has been recognised by reputable authorities.

The Eternal Father to St. Hildegard:

“Does anyone think it possible to see into the deep wisdom of the Most High and into the discernment of His knowledge, and count the number of those who are to be saved? His judgements are incomprehensible to all people. Your task is to run; for the kingdom of God is prepared for you.” (p. 315, Scivias)

What Wounds Jesus Most?

“Even the single little prayer, ‘I trust in Thee,’ ravishes My Heart, because Faith, Love and Humility are comprised in this short prayer… An act of confidence pleases Me so much because it honors my dearest attributes, goodness and Mercy.”

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

“Write, my Benigna, Apostle of my Mercy, write this: The principal thing I desire to make known is that I am all Love; the greatest pain souls can give Me is to doubt My goodness. Not only does My Heart feel compassion, but It rejoices when there is much to repair, provided souls have no malice. If thou couldst know how powerfully I would operate in a soul, even filled with miseries, if she would let Me! Love has need of nothing, but it must find no resistance. Often all that is required of a soul to render it holy, is to let Me act. Imperfections cannot displease Me, unless the soul loves them. She should use them as so many steps of the ladder to mount to Me by means of humility, confidence and love; I descend to the soul that humbles herself, and go to seek her in her nothingness to unite Myself to her.

It is certain that a hundred sins offend Me more than one alone; but if this single sin is distrust of Me, it wounds My Heart more than the hundred others, because distrust wounds My Heart to its innermost core. I love men so much!

“Yes, they have too narrow an idea of the goodness of God, of His mercy, His love for His creatures. They measure God by creatures, and God has no limits; His goodness is without bounds. O that men are able to use God and will not do it! Why is this? Because the world knows Him not. I am an infinite treasure which My Father has placed at the disposal of all. They who reject Me will comprehend their misfortune only in Eternity. I love men; I love them tenderly as My dear brethren; although there is an infinite distance between them and Me, I make no account of it.

… Thou canst not conceive the pleasure I take in fulfilling My Mission of Saviour. When sins have been pardoned, they become for the soul fountains of graces because they are perpetual sources of humility. Everything contributes to the advancement of a soul, everything; even her imperfections are in My divine hands like so many precious stones, because I change them into acts of humility, which I inspire the soul to make. If those who build houses could transform the debris and all that obstructs their work into materials of construction, how fortunate they would consider themselves! Well, the faithful soul does this with the aid of My divine grace; and her faults, even the gravest and most shameful, become fundamental stones of the edifice of her perfection.”

EIGHTH STATION [OF THE CROSS]

Jesus Consoles the Pious Women

“The attraction of the most sweet Heart of Jesus is to console those who suffer, to compassionate the miseries of His poor creatures, and ever to show them mercy. Let him who wishes to prove it, come to Me, He says. Let him who would purchase relief and mercy, go to Jesus and present for payment his very miseries; and the merciful Jesus will accept them provided they are offered with humility, confidence and love. O my Jesus, I will console Thy Heart, so desirous of consuming our miseries, and do Thou console mine by giving me Thy holy peace. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!”

Happy Feast of the Divine Mercy! (This feast is linked to the revelations of St. Faustina, which deserve to be read by all.)

A Beautiful Revelation for Every Christian (Pt. 3)

Jesus to Sr. Gertrude Mary:

“In return for the signal favours with which I fill your soul, I ask you to console My Heart. This is the part you have to play, My privileged spouse.

You rejoice My Heart every time that you show Me gratitude for the trials which I send you.**

Let Me do what I will with youBe faithful to all that I ask of you.

You shall be the beloved disciple of My Heart, and I will take the entire charge of your soul.”

** Our Lord said to St. Gertrude that we should thank Him for sufferings and trials. Why? Because they are sent or permitted for our eternal welfare, and for the benefit of others.  They are sent by God’s love as a means of purifying our souls; uniting us more intimately to God; increasing our merits; and to “snatch many souls from perdition” (Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez).

Ponder these truths, and next time you suffer, call to mind Our Crucified Saviour, the Lamb without spot.

A Revelation on Divine Mercy (to St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi)

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The Eternal Father addressed these words to St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi:

“My Word consummated on the cross the love wherewith I sent Him to you, satisfying My justice for your sins so fully that I received more satisfaction, without comparison, than I had received offense. Hence it is that I am so easily appeased with the sinners who return to Me and are converted; and I receive them in the arms of My Love, because I have been so well satisfied by the obedience of My Word. In this world, or in an infinite number of worlds, so many sins could not be committed, for which My Word had atoned, that I would not be satisfied with the reparation He made for the sins and the offense. Hence, the Royal Prophet, foreseeing this satisfaction, has said: “Copiosa apud eum redemption” – “With Him plentiful redemption” (Ps. cxxix, 7).”

“As St. Thomas says: “He properly atones for an offense who offers something which the offended one loves equally, or even more than he detested the offense. But by suffering out of love and obedience, Christ gave more to God than was required to compensate for the offense of the whole human race”; for the immense charity of the incarnate Son was more pleasing to God than all the sins of men were displeasing to Him, because this act of charity was a theandric act [and therefore infinite in value], inasmuch as it proceeded radically from the person of the Word.” – Lagrange

“I am your God… I Myself want to live in your heart.”

The following words have been compiled from the remarkable Revelations of St. Bridget of Sweden. If they were read by a greater number, many more souls would be saved.

“I am your God and the Lord of the angels. I am Lord over life and death. I Myself want to live in your heart. See what a great love I have for you! The heavens and the earth and all the things in them cannot contain me, and yet I want to live in your heart, which is only a little piece of flesh. Whom could you then fear or what could you need when you have inside you God Almighty in whom all good things are?

… I created all things for the sake of mankind, and placed all things under his authority, but he loves all things except me, and hates nothing but me. I bought back the inheritance for him which he had lost because of his sin. But he is so foolish and without reason that he prefers this passing glory… instead of eternal glory in which there is everlasting good.

… The soul is indeed worthier and nobler than all the world, and more lasting than all things. The soul is more worthy, because she is a spiritual creature like the angels and made for eternal joy. She is more noble because she was made in the image of my divinity, both immortal and eternal. Because humankind is worthier and nobler than all creatures, the human race should live more nobly as having been endowed with reason beyond all the rest.

  … I desire souls in order to give them eternal joy and honor; but the devil desires to give them eternal horror and sorrow. … you should observe and take heed of the favors and good deeds which I have done for you: such as how nobly I created you by giving you a soul and body, how nobly I enriched you by giving you health and temporal things, how lovingly and sweetly I redeemed you when I died for you and restored your heavenly inheritance to you – if you want to have it. The bride should also do the will of the Bridegroom. But what is my will, except that you should want to love me above all things and not desire anything but me?

…But if you, my bride, desire nothing but me… I will give you the most precious and lovely reward! I will not give you gold or silver, but myself, to be your Bridegroom and reward – I, who am the King of Glory… consider how I, your God, walked before you, when my servants and friends abandoned Me in the world; for I was not seeking earthly friends, but heavenly friends. And if you now are troubled and afraid about the burden and difficulty of work and sickness, then consider how difficult and painful it is to burn in Hell! What would you not deserve if you had offended an earthly master as you have Me?

… Therefore, embrace and take upon yourself a little work, so that you may be made clean of sin and reach the great reward sooner. For the bride should grow tired working alongside her bridegroom so that she may all the more confidently take her rest with Him.”

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 Prayer EVERY Christian Should Know and Love…

(Every person, actually – we are all impoverished without prayer – but we’ll let that pass for now.)

This prayer has been called “a priceless treasure inspired by God” (St. Louis de Montfort), “the storehouse of countless blessings,” (Bl. Alan de la Roche), “the greatest method of praying” (St. Francis de Sales), “the most efficacious means of attaining eternal life… the remedy for all our evils…” (Pope Leo XIII); for centuries it has been the source of countless miracles; St. Padre Pio held it very dear, and it was never far from his lips or his thoughts; by it, Bl. John Massias released thousands upon thousands of souls in Purgatory; for the saints it was a powerful weapon to convert even the most hardened and despairing sinners; it is a perpetual source of light to the blind, strength to the weak, hope to the despairing, and joy to the sorrowful; and in recent times, Mary, the Theotokos herself, has encouraged us to pray this prayer EVERY DAY.

What is this powerful prayer, of which the Saints speak with so much respect, love and admiration? My friends, it is none other than the Holy Rosary!

Greatly detested by the Serpent, but loved by all the Elect, the Rosary is a compendium of the Gospel: it is a meditation on the mysteries of Our Saviour’s life, death and resurrection. In a word, it is a meditation on Divine Love: ‘and in my meditation a fire shall flame out.’ (Ps. 39:3).

Properly said – i.e. attentively, reverently, confidently and humbly [thus forming the unintentional acronym ARCH] – the Rosary is extremely pleasing to Our Lord and Our Lady.

The arguments in favour of praying the daily Rosary (i.e. at least 5 decades) are innumerable. For those of you who have doubts about the orthodoxy or efficacy of the Rosary, you might consider asking Our Lord for light (as we all must), then make a resolution – perhaps for one month – to pray and reflect daily upon the following words of Scripture:

‘Hail [Mary], full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.’ (Lk. 1:28)
‘Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb [Jesus].’ (Lk. 1:42)

Surely no harm can come from this practice. In fact, nothing but good will come from this. Our Lord encouraged St. Francis of Assisi to seek perfection under the guidance of Mary. Should we not do the same? Can we possibly be led astray by one who seeks only to unite us to her Son, saying: ‘Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye’? (Jn. 2:5) Can we possibly be led astray if we follow the same path that the Saints (who are now in Heaven) have always taken?

One day St. Francis of Assisi had a vision in which his fellow religious were trying to reach Jesus by a very steep, red ladder; but after ascending a few of its rungs, they would lose their ground. Our Lord then revealed to Francis a different ladder; this ladder was white, it was much less steep than the previous ladder, and at the summit was the Blessed Virgin Mary. Jesus then said to Francis: “Advise your sons to go by the ladder of My Mother.”

As Mary’s spiritual children we ought to love her, to trust in her, and seek to please her. She has an ardent desire to help us! She is more than able to help us! We need her help!

We are truly Mary’s children, and as her children, we require nourishment. And with what, we might ask, does Our Lady nourish us? With the fruit of her womb: with Jesus!

‘I am the mother of fair love… Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits.’ (Ecclus. 24:24, 26)

To illustrate this point, we have a story from the life of Bl. Benvenuta Bojani. One day while she was praying in church, “she beheld a poor child of exquisite beauty, and, calling him to her, she inquired if he could say the Hail Mary.”
“Can you say it?” asked the child.
Benvenuta immediately began to recite it; and, when she came to the words: “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb,” the Child said: “And I am He,” and then disappeared.” (Words taken from ‘Dominican Saints’)

A similar event occurred in the life of St. Crescentia (one of my favourite Saints!). One day as she was praying thus: “Praised and blessed be thy noble treasure, Mary, which thou didst receive from the Holy Ghost! and praised be the blessed Fruit of thy womb,” Our Lady appeared to her with the Divine Child, saying: “This is the blessed Fruit of my womb.”

We must not think that honour given to Our Lady detracts from God’s glory. On the contrary, we love Mary because God loved her first; we honour her because He honoured her first; we ask for her prayers because He gave her to us to be our mother; and what mother is not eager to help her children? Can anyone truly doubt that Mary loves us as her most dear children, when we even find the prophet David dedicating himself to Mary as her son, despite the fact that she had not yet been born? ‘Save the son of thy handmaid,’ he said. (Ps. 86:16) “Whose handmaid? She who says: Behold the handmaid of the Lord.” (St. Augustine)

“My mother Mary,” said Our Lord to St. Bridget, “on account of her compassion and charity, was made mother of all in heaven and on earth.” “I have become mother of all of you,” said Our Lady to St. Gertrude, “in the womb of my charity, and you have become my children, the brethren of Jesus.” (cf. Luke 2:7).

Now, Almighty God has commanded us to honour our parents. ‘Honour thy father and thy mother.’ (Eph. 6:2) Nothing could be clearer. Well, if Mary is our mother, then we have the duty to honour her and to obey her as we would our biological mother.

With this in mind, let us all take seriously the words of Our Lady in some of her recent apparitions, which simply confirm the constant teaching of the Church and her Saints. Here are some of her words to us, her dear children:

1. “I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day.” – Our Lady of Fatima (in Portugal), October 13, 1917

2. “Pray and do penance. Pray the Rosary frequently. It is the only powerful weapon to attract the blessings from Heaven.” – Our Lady to Servant of God, Edvige Carboni (of Italy), March 1942

3. “Spread the devotion to my Immaculate Heart, in order that many souls maybe conquered by my love and that many sinners may return to my Maternal Heart. Do not fear, for I will accompany with my maternal protection my faithful ones, and all those who accept my urgent warnings, and they — especially by the recitations of my Rosary — will be saved.” – Our Lady to Bl. Elena Aiello (d. 1961)

4. “Each day, recite the prayers of the Rosary… Pray the Rosary often.” – Our Lady of Akita (in Japan), October 13, 1973

5. “Pray the Rosary. Meditate on the mysteries. Listen to the Word of God spoken in them.” – Our Lady of Cuapa (in Nicaragua), 1980

+ “My daughter, do not be afraid of me. I am your loving Mother whom you praise so faithfully every day. Be steadfast and persevere; I want you to know that the Angelic Salutation gives me so much joy that no man could ever really explain it.” – Our Lady to a member of the Confraternity of the Rosary

+ “Never has any man composed anything more beautiful than the Hail Mary. No salutation could be dearer to my heart than those beautiful and dignified words that God the Father addressed to me Himself.” – Our Lady to St. Gertrude

Some final words:

“Mary has recommended the Rosary at Lourdes and Fatima because of its exceptional value for us and our times.” – St. Padre Pio
“The power of the rosary is beyond description.” – Ven. Archbishop Fulton Sheen

“NOBODY WHO PERSEVERES IN THE ROSARY WILL BE DAMNED, BECAUSE SHE (MARY) OBTAINS FOR HER SERVANTS THE GRACE OF TRUE CONTRITION FOR THEIR SINS AND BY MEANS OF THIS THEY OBTAIN GOD’S FORGIVENESS AND MERCY.” – A revelation to St. Dominic

God is Patient and Rich in Mercy.

“When Sister [Saint] Mechtilde was once praying for someone who was afraid God had not forgiven a fault he had committed, the Lord told her:

‘That would be impossible. Whosoever regrets his sins receives their pardon from Me. If he continues to grieve for them, I give My grace in addition.’ (p. 47 of ‘Divine Communications’, Vol. 2, by Rev. Auguste Saudreau)

The following encouraging words are from Fr. Mueller’s book, ‘The Prodigal Son, or, the Sinner’s Return to God’:

“The Lord waits,” says Isaias, “that He may show mercy to you.” (Isaiah 30:18)… He delays His punishments as long as possible, that the poor ungrateful wretch may repent and at last return to His friendship. And, when obliged to punish, when He can delay no longer, He does it with such slowness that He discharges His anger little by little, to oblige the sinner to repent of his sins and to arrest the arm of His vengeance. God might have destroyed the city of Jericho in one instant, yet He spent seven days in destroying it. In like manner, He might have destroyed the world by water in one moment, yet He spent forty days in this work. Why? In order that those who were destroyed might have time for doing penance, and so be saved. (p. 281)

Encouragement for Those Who Wish to Abandon Sin

“… God grants the same favors to holy penitents as to innocent souls, and thereby fulfils the promise made by Him through the prophet Ezechiel: “The wickedness of the wicked shall not hurt him in what day soever he shall turn from his wickedness.”  But not only do holy penitents receive the same favors as innocent saints, many of them even seem to be more highly favored by God. Which of the apostles was made Head of the Church? Was it St. John or St. James, whose lives were always blameless? Not so; it was St. Peter, who denied his divine Master three times. And did not St. Paul, who persecuted the Christians with implacable hatred, become a vessel of election to preach the Gospel among the Gentiles? The innocent apostle St. John always remained faithful to our Lord, and stood beneath His cross at Mount Calvary. Yet it was not to him that our dear Saviour appeared first after His resurrection, but to St. Peter, His sinful apostle. It was not Martha but Magdalen, the penitent, that sat at the feet of our Lord and listened to his sacred doctrine; and it was she, too, to whom our Lord first appeared after His resurrection. How great are the graces and privileges which our Lord afterwards granted to so many holy penitents! To St. Augustine, for instance; to St. Margaret of Cortona. To this last saint, in particular, who had formerly spent several years in sin, God revealed the place prepared for her in Heaven amongst the seraphim; and even during her life He showed her many signal favors, insomuch that, beholding herself so highly favored, she one day said to God: “Lord, how is it that Thou lavishest so many graces on me? Hast Thou, then, forgotten the sins I have committed against Thee?” “And have you for gotten,” our Lord answered, “what I have told you, that when a soul repents of her faults I no longer remember the outrages of which she has been guilty towards me?”

… But will not innocent souls murmur at this love and mercy of God for sinners? … Oh! no, holy innocent souls! Show yourselves content with all this… Persevere in your piety, and your reward is most certain. “My son, thou art always with me, and all I have is thine.”  

But do you, wretched sinners who have hitherto been prevented from returning to the Lord by the consideration of the great number and hideousness of your sins, hearken to the words of the wise man: “Think well of the Lord. Think of the Lord in goodness, and seek Him in simplicity of heart.” Think of the Lord in a manner worthy of His goodness and exceedingly great mercy. Should you have committed all the sins that ever were committed, should you have stayed from confession for how long soever, let all this be no reason for you to stay away any longer. God is ever ready to receive you with open arms, to embrace you as His dearly beloved children, with so much the more joy and gladness the further you have strayed away from Him. “Fear not,” said He one day to St. Margaret of Cortona “fear not to obtain the full remission of all thy sins. Thou wilt infallibly obtain it, and thou shalt inflame others colder and more coy. I have destined thee as an example to all poor sinners, in order that they may clearly understand that I am that compassionate Father who welcomes back His most rebellious and most contumacious children, and that, if they ask my pardon and prepare to receive my grace, they will ever find me ready to give it just as quickly as I have turned to thee.”  From the moment of your repentance, all the disorders, all the crimes, of your life, no matter how black, how hideous they may be, will be drowned, as it were, in the ocean of God’s mercy, and disappear as the darkest night disappears at the rising of the sun. “As far as the east is from the west,” says the Lord, “so far I will put away from me all your iniquities.” 

The Mercy of God Towards a Great Sinner

Father Patrignani (Corona d’Esempi, IV. Esemp. 13, t. iv.) relates that a certain woman had committed a great many crimes, but Jesus patiently waited for her conversion. As the woman seeks the lost penny in the sweepings, so did Jesus seek this lost soul in the very midst of her sinful career. This woman at last went so far in her wickedness as to receive Holy Communion unworthily. After having received, she drew from her mouth the sacred particle and placed it in a handkerchief. She then went to shut herself up in her room, where she threw the Blessed Sacrament on the ground, and began to trample it under her feet. But lo! she casts her eyes down, and what does she see ! She sees the Sacred Host changed into the form of a beautiful Infant, but all bruised and covered with blood; and the Infant Jesus said to her:

“What have I done to you that you treat me so ill?”

Upon which the wretched creature, full of contrition and repentance, threw herself on her knees in tears, and said to Him: “O my God, dost Thou ask me what Thou hast done to me? Thou hast loved me too much.” The vision disappeared, and the woman changed her life and became a model of penance. Oh! the great patience of God in waiting for the return of the sinner.