Wisdom from the Writings of Saintly Souls (on a Range of Topics)

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The Father’s Love for the Mystical Body, the Church

1. “The more God sees His Son in each one of us, the more abundantly He showers His gifts on us.” (p. 98, ‘The Spiritual Doctrine of Dom Marmion’)

Authentic Christianity: “For me, to live is Christ”

2. “A spiritual life which does not depend entirely on Christ is false, empty, absolutely useless; ‘Without Me you can do nothing.” (p. 54, ‘The Spiritual Doctrine of Dom Marmion’)

Without Jesus, We Cannot Bear the Cross

3. Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos: “… at the beginning of Mass I saw our Lord stooping, as if bearing a heavy burden, and He said to me, I take upon myself the suffering of My daughter.” (p. 402, Life)

The Delight of the Elect: Perfect Union with God

4. Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos: “One day the interior voice said to me: God renders the blessed like Himself; yes, Benigne, My elect by seeing Me are in such wise transformed in Me that they have no other will than Mine; their love springs from My Love.” (p. 341, Life)

The Alpha and the Omega

5. Our Lord to Ven. Louise Margaret: “Infinite Love envelops, penetrates, and fills all things. It is the only source of life and of all fertility; It is the eternal principle of beings and their eternal end. If you wish to possess life and not be sterile, break the bonds that bind you to yourself and to creatures and plunge into this abyss.” (p. 4, ‘The Love and Service of God, Infinite Love,’ TAN Books)

Hell Exists because God is Good

6. Ven. Louise Margaret: “No, if there were no Hell, I could not love Thee… If there were no Hell, three splendid jewels would be wanting to the crown of Thy sublime perfections; there would be wanting justice, power and dignity.” (p. 10, TLGIL)

“I desire mercy”

7. From the Life of Bl. Elizabeth Canori–Mora: “Another time He revealed to her and placed before her eyes the sins of His own Ministers and of the public Magistrates. Elizabeth was so much surprised that she was filled with profound indignation, and opened her lips to cry out for justice against these unknown delinquents; but Our Lord prevented her, and said in a tone of love and tenderness: “Ah! My daughter, cry for mercy, not for justice. I wish not the death of the sinner, but that he should be converted and live.” Whilst saying these ineffable words He directed upon her from His Heart a ray of pure and living light; then he added: “May this ray of light serve you to protect men against the anger of Divine Justice.” (p. 184)

The Blood of Jesus Cries for Mercy

8. St. Gemma’s Guardian Angel: “Look at what Jesus has suffered for men. Consider one by one these Wounds. It is Love that has opened them all. See how execrable sin is, since to expiate it, so much pain and so much love have been necessary.” (p. 194, Life)

Imperfections: A Treasure for the Soul of Good-Will

9. Jesus to Sr. Consolata Betrone: “… you will commit faults, infidelities, and imperfections; and these will help you to advance, for they will cause you to make many acts of humility.” (p. 41, JATTW)

The Cross is a Gift

10. Jesus to St. Gemma (appearing to her with the Cross on His shoulders): “Gemma, wilt thou have it, My Cross? See, this is the present I have prepared for thee.” (p. 174, Life)

A Model of Patience in Suffering

11. From the Life of Sr. Gertrude Mary: “On her bed of agony, coughing incessantly, she murmurs this word of love: Every fit of coughing is a cry to Heaven.”

Heaven on Earth

12. Sr. Gertrude Mary: “The air which I breathe near the Tabernacle is not the same as elsewhere, for it is already that of Paradise. I know this by experience.”

What the Damned Would Give to See God

13. From ‘The Dogma of Hell, Illustrated by Facts Taken from Profane and Sacred History,’ by Rev. F.X. Schouppe:

“A holy priest was exorcising a demoniac, and he asked the demon what pains he was suffering in Hell.

“An eternal fire,” he answered, “an eternal malediction, an eternal rage, and a frightful despair at being never able to gaze upon Him who created me.”

“What would you do to have the happiness of seeing God?”

“To see Him but for one moment, I should willingly consent to endure my torments for 10,000 years. But vain desires! I shall suffer forever and never see Him!”

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An Offering of Oneself to Merciful Love

“I thirst for your love, just as a parched man thirsts for a spring of fresh water!”

– Jesus to Sr. Consolata Betrone (p. 50, ‘Jesus Appeals to the World,’ St. Paul’s)

“Tell the world how good I am, how like a parent, and how in return I desire only love from My creatures.”

– Jesus to Sr. Consolata (p. 52, JATTW)

The following delightful prayer will surely please those who, like St. Therese, have, or desire to, offer themselves as a holocaust to Merciful Love:

An Act of Pure Love

“Jesus, God of infinite charity, Goodness inexhaustible, I, a miserable creature nothing worth, in order to honor Thy ineffable Mercy, offer myself, give and consecrate and abandon myself forever to the love of Thy most loving and tender Heart. My Jesus, as it is impossible that fire should not burn and consume a little blade of straw cast into it, so let Thy burning charity consume this poor little heart of mine, which wishes to be all Thine. Jesus, be to me a Jesus; Jesus, be to me a Jesus; Jesus, be to me a Jesus!” (Prayer given by Our Lord to Sr. Benigna Consolata Ferrero)

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Worth reading is St. Therese’s prayer, ‘Living on Love’:

Living on Love !…

On the evening of Love, speaking without parable, Jesus said : « If anyone wishes to love me All his life, let him keep my Word. My Father and I will come to visit him. And we will make his heart our dwelling. Comimng to him, we shall love him always. We want him to remain, filled with peace, In our Love !… » Living on Love is holding You Yourself. Uncreated word, Word of my God, Ah ! Divine Jesus, you know I love you. The Spirit of Love sets me aflame with his fire. In loving you I (…)

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“Finally I enkindle in the soul that loves Me such a fire of love, of desire of imitation,
that she can no longer live except to labor for God, to suffer for God, to immolate herself for God. Sacrifice is her life, as oil is the life of the burning flame.
(Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata, from ‘The Decalogue of Highest Perfection’)

“Free yourself of the burden of this world’s goods, and I will personally fill you with those which are heavenly unto your soul’s supreme consolation.”

– Jesus to Ven. Juan de Jesus Maria (p. 280, ‘The Principles of Monasticism’)

[Dear reader: I try to post weekly. Sometimes this is not possible. I will do my best. PAX!]

 

 

The Most Efficacious Remedy for the Evils of Today

A Sad State of Affairs

From a spiritual standpoint, what can be said about humanity in 2016? Is God loved and adored? Is wisdom sought? Is moral progress evident?

Rhetorical question. (Ironically, I would wager that most moral relativists would even answer “no” to the latter question.)

One has only to pick up a newspaper to behold but a few of the evils that afflict mankind today – or rather, that we afflict on ourselves; for evil, recall, enters the world through the door of the will. Even natural evils would not exist were it not for moral evils (c.f. the account of the Fall). (The materialist is really in a predicament here; for by denying immateriality, they at least implicitly deny free-will, without which there can be no morality at all. A universe without autonomous agents is an amoral universe.)

When I think of the prevalence of “sins that cry out to Heaven for vengeance,” I ask myself: When, dear Lord, will enough be enough?

Perhaps you, too, are concerned, or even afraid, of the current state of affairs, and ask yourself: Is chastisement imminent? Teresa Neumann, the stigmatic, certainly thought so. But it is not all “bad”…

A Message of Hope from Saintly Souls

In fact, the “resurrection of society” that Our Lord spoke about to Sr. Benigna Consolata (d. 1916) will be “a work of love.” Similarly, Our Lord is alleged to have said to St. Bridget of Sweden, St. Catherine of Siena, Bl. Anna Maria Taigi, Bl. Elizabeth Canori-Mora, Ven. Philomena of St. Colomba (d. 1868), and others, that at some point in the future there will be a great triumph of the Catholic Faith; Jews, Muslims, pagans and Protestants will flock to the Church of Christ (i.e. the Catholic Church); God will be glorified, and many souls will be saved. In the words of Ven. Philomena of St. Columba, God will “fertilise the world” anew with an abundance of graces!

“If I permit so much sorrow in the world, it is for that one purpose, to save souls for eternity.”

– Jesus to Sr. Consolata (p. 20, Jesus Appeals to the World, St. Paul’s)

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: An Infinite Source of Goodness

Yes, there is much evil in the world today; yes, injustice abounds; yes, the Church contains many sinners. But hold on. That is not all. We have the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; we have the Sacraments; we have the invincible weapon of prayer; we have the hope of eternity; we have the assurance from Our Lady of Fatima (1917) that, in the end, her Immaculate Heart will triumph (alongside the Sacred Heart of Jesus). In a word, we have a Saviour Who loves us infinitely – so much, in fact, that He does everything to win our love, even to the point of offering Himself daily on our Altars for our salvation! There alone can be found peace; there alone can be found a solid, unchanging ground for our hope, for peace and for joy. And to think that this Ocean of Goodness, namely, the Sacred Heart, is an inexhaustible Fountain!
Those who have frequent recourse to Jesus, Who remains night and day in our Tabernacles, will soon discover that all their troubles melt away in the Light that shines forth from the Holy Face of Eternal Love Incarnate.
‘For Thou, my Lord, art very admirable, and Thy Face is full of graces.’
(Esther 15:17)
If you want happiness both in this life and the next; if you want to cooperate in the salvation of many souls, there is but one thing to do: strive to be a Eucharistic Soul. Center your life around the Most Blessed Sacrament; live for Jesus and by Him, that is, by His very Life. “The soul,” writes Sr. Jeanne Benigne, “does truly derive invincible strength from Holy Communion, when it understands the sense of those words of our Lord: ‘As I live by the Father, so he that eateth Me, the same also shall live by Me.’ Now, the mortal and corruptible creature cannot by its own power raise itself, the Saviour must by Holy Communion descend into the soul to make it a partaker of His life and of Himself; by this divine participation His grace and love establish in it a new life, new affections all holy and pure, giving it a strong aversion to the very name of sin, however slight, and new inclinations to good and to doing all things according to the good pleasure of God and for His glory, from the sole motive of pure love.”

“In whatever state a soul may be when I favor her with special graces, I attract her to the imitation of My Eucharistic Life.

It is a life of death that I inspire the soul to live.

To have eyes, and see only for the service of Love; to have ears, and no longer hear aught but what can augment Love; to have a mouth, and not use it except to speak of Love; to have hands,feet, heart, body, and no longer use them but as Love wills.

To depend on Love for everything as a little babe depends on its mother.”

– Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata Ferrero

Just How Great is the Value of the Mass?

“The value of the Mass is infinite.” (St. Thomas) “The sacrifice of Calvary,” writes Rev. Garrigou-Lagrange, “which was offered up for all men, was no less profitable to the good thief than if it had been offered up for him alone.” (p. 316, ‘Our Saviour and His Love for Us,’ TAN Books)

“This sacrifice possesses an infinite potency to obtain what we ask,because of the infinite value of the Victim, the infinite dignity of the Priest [Jesus]. There is no gift, no grace, whichit does not avail to obtain. However numerous are the persons for whom it is offered, this sacred Victim can procure the fulfilment of their petitions; and for these reasons: because Christ, the great High Priest, is infinitely well-pleasing to God; because the merits which He offersto God the Father are infinite; because His passion, His
blood, His wounds, are all-prevailing.”

– Marchantius

The Great Cause of Evil in Our Day

The evils that beset the world today are due, in large part, to ignorance or neglect of the things of God. Those who fail to consider the gifts of God cannot be thankful for them, nor will they seek God with fervour… Jesus came to bring fire!

“Souls aflame with love,” said Jesus to Yvonne-Aimee, “aim solely at pleasing God” – something that implies a more-or-less constant consideration of God. If Jesus is to establish His Kingdom in souls, souls must know where to find His throne (i.e. the Altar).

When the Liturgy is treated with the dignity and respect that it deserves, and when souls communicate frequently and fervently, the world will completely change.

A Prophecy from Sr. Mary Cherubina (d. 1871), A Heroic Soul who Offered Herself for Unworthy Priests

“Make known to all Catholics that God wills that His priests should lead more holy lives, for, although many of them are in the grace of God, yet even they approach the holy Altar with extraordinary coldness, and as if it were an every–day thing. It was not thus that Jesus went to Calvary! He went with a burning love, and priests should offer the Holy Sacrifice with a pure conscience, an immaculate heart, and a lively faith; let them present this Divine Victim to the Eternal Father for the salvation of souls, and especially for the conversion of so many scandalous and apostate priests. They are the crying evil of these days: yet the arms of Jesus are open to receive them. Let them ask of our merciful Jesus, by the merits of His precious Blood, the grace of conversion for these unhappy men, and they will surely obtain this favour when they hold the Divine Victim in their hands. Make known that God is about to send other terrible chastisements upon the world; but they will be lessened if priests offer worthily the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Do not delay to make known all that I have told you.” (pp. 185-186)

“Fill yourself with this love and diffuse it over the world.”

– Jesus to Ven. Louise Margaret after she received Him in Holy Communion, describing her experience as being like “a sponge plunged into water” (p. 23, ‘The Love and Service of God, Infinite Love,’ TAN Books)

 

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.

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

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“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)

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“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+

14 Rules for Christian Living

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Dom Maurus Wolter, O.S.B.

“My omnipotence is great, and grace will enable you to give Me what I ask of you.”

– Jesus to Sr. Consolata (p. 117, ‘Jesus Appeals to the World’)

Only Divine Love can transform the ruins of this fallen world. More than anything, the world needs saints! “Oh,” said Our Lord to St. Gemma Galgani, “that I could make all understand how incensed My Heavenly Father is by the impious world! There is nothing to stay His Hand, and He is now preparing a great chastisement for all the world.” (p. 175–176, ‘Life of St. Gemma Galgani’)

Trust in God, and He will see to your sanctification. What a sublime calling! What a great duty!

“I cannot bear tepid and cowardly souls.” (cf. Rev. 3:16)

– Jesus to St. Margaret Mary

‘And Christ died for all; that they also who live, may not now live to themselves, but unto Him who died for them, and rose again.’ (2 Cor. 5:15) And how can we live unto Him, Who is Charity (1 Jn. 4:16), except by Charity?  “Let your whole life,” said Jesus to St. Veronica Giuliani, “be one continual act of charity. I desire you in charity.” 

“Fill yourself with this Love and diffuse it over the world.”

– Jesus to Ven. Louise Margaret de la Touche

Take heed of the following advice, dear reader – not only for your own benefit, but for the benefit of those dear to you, and for all those who have been redeemed by the Precious Blood of Christ.

(The following quotes have been taken from ‘The Principles of Monasticism’ by Dom Maurus Wolter).

Work Diligently

“The Lord couples sloth with wickedness, saying: Wicked and slothful servant.” (cf. Mt. 25:26)

– St. Basil the Great (p. 498)

Avoid Excessive Chatter

“Avoid excessive speaking for it extinguishes all reasonable thoughts and those which come to the heart from Heaven.”

– St. Dorotheus (p. 66)

Pray Frequently

“He who desires to pray frequently will find the mercy of Christ more abundantly.”

– St. Macarius (p. 139)

Join Prayer to Meditation

“Meditation and prayer are the two wings of charity.”

– Hugh of St. Cher (p. 214)

Love Silent Contemplation

“Arsenius, flee [men, the world], keep silence, and lead a life of silent contemplation, for these are the principles of salvation which prevent a man from committing sin.”

– Our Lord to St. Arsenius (p. 68)

Rid Yourself of Earthly Attachments

“Free yourself of the burden of this world’s goods, and I will personally fill you with those which are heavenly unto your soul’s supreme consolation.”

– Jesus to Ven. Juan de Jesus Maria (p. 280)

Seek God Alone

“And who can be more fortunate than he whose Creator becomes his wealth?”

– Julianus Pomerius (p. 293)

Bear with Humiliations

“If you long for the virtue of humility, you must not flee from the way of humiliation.”

– St. Bernard (p. 298)

Deny Yourself

“Unless a person renounces himself he cannot draw night to that which is above him.”

– St. Gregory the Great (p. 390)

Love Chastity

“O chastity, which begets spiritual joy and banishes sadness!”

– St. Ephraem (p. 374)

Avoid Gluttony

“We must take food not to the point of eating extravagantly or to the state of being glutted, but only so that the body can be properly sustained.”

– St. Isidore of Seville (p. 411–412)

Flee Idleness

“There is no thought so foul, so abominable, so evil and execrable to which idleness, which is so detestable, will not lead. For the heart of a man given to idleness is like a mill which, having no good grain to grind, but being nevertheless in continual motion, grinds on and wears itself out, even unto total destruction, unless such ruin is prevented by someone’s diligence. And it chops up dirty insects flying about just as readily as choice kernels of grain.”

– John Gerson (p. 505)

Admonish the Sinner

“If punishment lies in store for him who has the money and does not help with the same, shall there not be a greater punishment for him who has the opportunity to exhort and does not do so? In the former case the body is nourished, and in the latter, the soul; there you prevent temporal death, here, that which is eternal.”

– St. John Chrysostom (p. 629)

Know your Faith

“THE MAN WHO IS LACKING IN DOCTRINE WILL EVERYWHERE SUFFER DARKNESS.”

– St. Bede (p. 513)

Catching Foxes, and Eternal Salvation

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“Catch us the little foxes that destroy the vines.”

(Song of Solomon 2:15)

‘My little children, these things I write to you, that you may not sin.’ (1 Jn. 2:1)

“He [the Lord] does not tell us to catch the lions or the bears, but the little foxes. Lions and bears strike terror, and therefore all are careful to keep at a distance through fear of being devoured by them; but the little foxes, though they do not excite dismay, destroy the vine by drying up its roots. Mortal sin terrifies the timorous soul; but, if she accustom herself to the commission of many venial sins with full deliberation, and without endeavouring to correct them, they, like the little foxes, shall destroy the roots that is, the remorse of conscience, the fear of offending God, and the holy desires of advancing in divine love; and thus, being in a state of tepidity, and impelled to sin by some passion, the soul will easily abandon God and lose the divine grace.

… Moreover, deliberate and habitual venial sins not only deprive us of strength to resist temptations, but also of the special helps without which we fall into grievous sins. Be attentive, brethren; for this is a point of great importance. It is certain, that of ourselves we have not sufficient strength to resist the temptations of the devil, of the flesh, and of the world. It is God that prevents our enemies from assailing us with temptations by which we would be conquered. Hence Jesus Christ has taught us the following prayer: “And lead us not into temptation.” He teaches us to pray that God may deliver us from the temptations to which we would yield, and thus lose his grace. Moreover, venial sins, when they are deliberate and habitual, deprive us of the special helps of God which are necessary for preservation in his grace. I say necessary, because the Council of Trent anathematizes those who assert that we can persevere in grace without a special help from God. “Si quis dixerit, justificatum vel sine speciali auxilio Dei in accepta justitia perseverare posse, vel cum eo non posse; anathema sit.” (Sess. 6, can. xxii.) Thus, with the ordinary assistance of God, we cannot avoid falling into some mortal sin: a special aid is necessary. But this special aid God will justly withhold from tepid souls who are regardless of committing, with full deliberation, many venial sins. Thus these unhappy souls shall not persevere in grace.”

– St. Alphonsus Liguori

A Revelation Regarding Habitual Venial Sin

“In this manner, sins are increased through habitual practice, and a venial sin that could have been pardoned through contrition becomes a serious one through a person’s negligence and scorn, as you can deduce from the case of this soul who has already been condemned.”

– Jesus to St. Bridget (Bk 3, Ch 19)

A Striking Example of the Danger of Venial Sin

“It is related in the Teresian Chronicles, that Sister Anne of the Incarnation once saw in Hell a person whom she had regarded as a Saint: on her countenance appeared a multitude of small animals, which represented the multitude of defects that she committed and disregarded during life. Of these some were heard to say, By us you began; others, By us you continued; others, By us you have brought yourself to Hell.

– St. Alphonsus: (‘Dignity and Duties of the Priest,’ Ch 5 – The Injury Done to the Priest by Tepidity)

COMMENT: In other words, this Sister’s tepidity exposed her gradually to mortal sin.

To profit from these words – which I admit are quite disturbing – we must make some distinctions. This will help us avoid confusion and scruples.

       + We must distinguish between sin and imperfection.

“An imperfection is distinguished from these sins of frailty because it is only an act of lesser generosity in the service of God and of slighter esteem for the evangelical counsels. This is the case with a man who has five talents and sometimes acts as if he had only two; his act is still meritorious, but weak (remissus), and he is more or less clearly conscious of this inferiority. What is less good in itself must not be confused with what is essentially evil; what is less good for us here and now must not be confused with what would even now be evil for us. The lesser good is not an evil, as the lesser evil is not a good. Evidently we must avoid confusing good and evil.”

– Rev. Garrigou-Lagrange (‘The Three Ages of The Interior Life’)

       + We must distinguish between habitual sin and sins of weakness.

Habitual sins are generally – but not always – those sins that we refuse to give up, or that we make little effort in overcoming. (Sometimes it happens that we fall often because we do not make good use of the means for avoiding sin e.g. confident and persevering prayer; mediation; spiritual reading; the Sacraments; examination of conscience etc.).

To cling to sin is foolish and perverse. One cannot remain in the same state forever; either we will advance in the spiritual life, or we will go backwards.

Don’t be despondent. We all fall from time to time; none of us have been immaculately conceived. ‘For a just man shall fall seven times and shall rise again: but the wicked shall fall down into evil’ (Prov. 24:16). Even if we have the misfortune of committing many sins, we should not be discouraged. God loves us and His Sacred Heart is always open to us.

Just remember not to make your peace with deliberate sin.

“… you will commit faults, infidelities, and imperfections; and these will help you to advance, for they will cause you to make many acts of humility.” 

– Jesus to Sr. Consolata (p. 41, ‘Jesus Appeals to the World,’ St. Paul’s)

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

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

“Do not always keep looking back at yourself, and on what you have done; but look beyond those defects, and love always!”

– Jesus to Sr. Consolata (p. 85, ‘Jesus Appeals to the World,’ St. Paul’s)

       + We must recognise the great duty of Religious.

St. Thomas and many others say that a Religious must strive for perfection, under pain of mortal sin. Religious will be judged with greater exactness because they have been called to practice the evangelical counsels (poverty, chastity, obedience) in all their glorious perfection.

The Final Judgement

“It is stated that God will not ask for what He has not given, but I shall ask of those souls what I did not give them, because they deprive themselves of it by their sloth, by their indifference; because they are unwilling to put themselves out and to mortify themselves. I shall ask of them all that I should have given them if they had willed it, I shall ask of them the souls that they would have saved with their own if they had done what I required of them.”

– Jesus to Mary Brotel (‘Divine Communications,’ p. 25, Vol. 2)

The Purgative Way

Before entering Heaven, all souls must be perfectly purified from sin and attachment to sin. This purification should take place on Earth; but there are few souls who are this generous with God, hence many go to Purgatory before entering Paradise.

“After conversion there ought to be a serious beginning of the purgative life, in which beginners love God by avoiding mortal sin and deliberate venial sin, through exterior and interior mortification and through prayer. But in actual fact this purgative life is found under two very different forms: in some, admittedly very few, this life is intense, generous; it is the narrow way of perfect self-denial described by the saints. In many others the purgative life appears in an attenuated form, varying from good souls who are a little weak down to those tepid and retarded souls who from time to time fall into mortal sin.”

– Rev. Garrigou–Lagrange, O.P. (‘The Three Ways of the Spiritual Life’)

The Remedy for Lukewarmness

“First, the tepid must sincerely desire to be delivered from a state which, as we have seen, is so miserable and dangerous; for, without this desire, they shall not take pains to employ the proper means.

Secondly, they must resolve to remove the occasions of their faults; otherwise they will always relapse into the same defects.

Thirdly, they must earnestly beg of the Lord to raise them from so wretched a state. By their own strength they can do nothing; but they can do all things with the assistance of God, who has promised to hear the prayers of all. “Ask, and it shall be given; seek, and you shall find.” (Luke xi. 9.) We must pray, and continue to pray without interruption. If we cease to pray we shall be defeated; but if we persevere in prayer we shall conquer.”

– St. Alphonsus Liguori

An Easy, Powerful Way to “Pray Without Interruption”

“The holy desire of the soul, that is to say, good-will, is a continual prayer, because it has the power of prayer. And, whatsoever man does for the love of God and of his neighbour, may be called prayer, since love is accounted as prayer.”

– Our Lord to St. Catherine of Siena

+ Also, we should make frequent use of ejaculations/aspirations e.g. “O Jesus, King of Love, I put my trust in Thy loving mercy!”

If you persevere in repeating these little prayers often, you will become a Saint. You may fall, but you will rise quickly.

Some Encouragement

Souls converted:

‘Many people who are entangled in the nets of sins obtain contrition before they die. And their contrition may be so perfect that not only are their sins forgiven but also the pain of Purgatory is remitted if they die in the same contrition.’

– Jesus to St. Bridget

Children of Mary saved:

 “He who is devout to the Virgin Mother will certainly never be lost.”

– St. Irenaeus

Sinners saved through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy:

“… in order to honour the Incarnate Word, I in My mercy have decreed that any person whatsoever, be he just or sinner, who shall have recourse to Mary with love and respect, can never be the victim and the prey of the infernal serpent. Mary is like a sweet bait set by My mercy to attract men, especially sinners.”

– The Eternal Father to St. Catherine of Siena (‘Divine Communications,’ p. 102, Vol. 2)

 

 

God’s Providence: Fascinating Connections between 10 Mystics

The purpose of this article is to accentuate the wisdom, mystery and beauty of God’s Providence. I have chosen to focus on Providential events in the lives of 10 remarkable Catholic Mystics – each of whom were fervent (female) devotees of the Sacred Heart. It is my hope that in reading this article, many (of the relative few who read this blog) will be inspired to learn more about these remarkable women. Furthermore, it is my hope and prayer that you will seek their intercession and friendship. As Soeur Gertrude-Marie says: the more we love God, the more we will love His Saints.

Reading the lives of the Mystics* has been a passion of mine for quite some time. I confess that I am captivated by the love of these generous souls, who inspire me to seek their intercession, and to imitate, at least to some degree, their humility, purity and charity.

[*St. Therese is the only “ordinary” Mystic in this article; the others were the frequent recipients of visions, locutions and such.]

Read. Pray. Befriend. Imitate.

— Note: Much, much more could be said about the similarity between these great women. One has only to compare the revelations of Sr. Benigna Consolata and St. Faustina, for example, to see that their lives and writings are imbued with the message of Divine Mercy. Divine Mercy truly is the message for our times – our troubled, confused, despairing, atheistic, evil times. To this message we must respond with childlike confidence – another characteristic trait of the holy souls to whom this article refers.]

The Birth (and Death) of 10 Great Mystics

1615

  • July 20: Birth of Servant of God (SG.) Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos (d. November 5, 1692)

1647

  • July 22: Birth of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (d. October 17, 1690)

1870

  • October 28: Birth of (SG.?) Sr. Gertrude Mary (Anne-Marie Bernier) (d. May 24, 1908)

1873

  • January 2: Birth of St. Therese of Lisieux (d. September 30, 1897)

1885

  • August 6: Birth of SG. Sr. Benigna Consolata Ferrero (d. September 1, 1916)

1890

  • February 4: Birth of SG. Sr. Josefa Menendez (d. December 29, 1923)

1897

  • April 30: Birth of Bl. Dina Belanger (d. September 4, 1929)

1901

  • July 16: Birth of SG. Mother Yvonne-Aimee de Jesus (d. February 3, 1951)

1903

  • April 6: Birth of SG. Consolata Betrone (d. July 18, 1946)

1905

  • August 25: Birth of St. Faustina (d. October 5, 1938)

Dates Connecting the Aforementioned

July 22 (Feast of St. Mary Magdalene)

  • 1615: Baptism of Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos. “This dear child received the grace of Baptism on the Feast of St. Magdalen, which seemed to foretell that the little creature would be, as indeed she was, a true lover of Jesus, but [in her case] always innocent.” (p. 6 of her biography)
  • 1647: Birth of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (It was also on her birthday in 1690 that “… a little less than three months before her death, she heard more distinctly than ever the call of the Spouse.” (p. 283 of her biography)

Some revelations received on July 22:

  • 1921: Our Lady said to Sr. Josefa Menendez: “While you suffer, the devil has less power over that soul [for which you offer your sufferings].” (from ‘The Way of Divine Love’)
  • 1922: Jesus appeared to Sr. Josefa Menendez at the beginning of Holy Mass. “In one hand,” she writes, “He held His Heart and with the other He beckoned to me: “Behold the Prison I have prepared for you from all eternity. In My Heart you will henceforth live lost and hidden forever.”

August 25

  • 1671: St. Margaret Mary is clothed in the black habit of the Visitation Order.
  • 1905: Birth of St. Faustina (Trivia: August 25, 1883, marks the death of SG. Louise Lateau; she was a stigmatist, who, like St. Faustina, died at age 33)

Some revelations received on August 25:

  • 1915: Sr. Benigna Consolata received the “Decalogue of Love” from Our Lord.
  • 1920: Sr. Josefa has a remarkable vision of Jesus. She writes: “I cannot attempt to describe Him. He was standing upright, vested in white; He held His Heart in His hands, as in a brazier of fire.”
  • 1934: Sr. Consolata Betrone was reading a book which mentioned punishments threatened by Our Lord. Jesus consoled her: “Consolata, look up to Heaven… Have confidence!” (p. 19)

September 8 (Feast of Our Lady’s nativity/birthday)

  • 1890: Solemn Profession of St. Therese.
  • 1939: Sr. Consolata Betrone was transferred to the new foundation of Moriondo, Moncalieri, in Turin, Italy.
  • 1942: Sr. Consolata Betrone reconsecrated the Littlest Ones (those who will follow her in her unceasing act of love) to the Immaculate Virgin Mary, who said to her: “Upon all, and upon each one, I will look with predilection, as I have done with you!”

Some revelations received on September 8:

  • 1920: Jesus said to Sr. Josefa Menendez: “Which do you prefer, My Will or yours?”
  • 1921: Jesus said to Sr. Josefa Menendez: “Let your soul occupation be to love Me; Love will give you strength.”
  • 1922: Jesus said to Sr. Josefa Menendez: “O slake My thirst to be loved by souls, especially to be loved by those I have chosen… I do not look at the act, I look at the intention. The smallest act, if done out of love, acquires such merit that it gives Me immense consolation… I want only love, I ask for nothing else.”
  • 1928: Jesus said to Bl. Dina Belanger: “I want My life in you to be a canticle of praise for the glory of My Father. From now on, I want you to sing with Me the eternal canticle of My sacred and glorious Heart. Let Me radiate through you the love and joy of eternity.” (p. 352 of her autobiography)
  • 1936: Jesus said to Sr. Consolata Betrone: “Make every effort, Consolata; it is for your own good! It is upon the effort that I now insist, that you offer Me unceasingly an act of love!” (p. 104 of ‘Jesus Appeals to the World’)

November 5

  • 1690: St. Margaret Mary made a Vow of perfection.
  • 1692: Death of Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos.
  • 1908: Sr. Benigna Consolata received the white habit of the Visitation Order.

Some revelations received on November 5:

  • 1907: Our Lord gave Sr. Gertrude Mary a “superb necklace.” “This necklace,” He said, “is the symbol of faithfulness.” (p. 161)
  • 1934: St. Faustina writes (Diary, 341): “I am very surprised that You bid me to talk about this Feast of Mercy, for they tell me that there is already such a feast and so why should I talk about it?” Jesus replied: “And who knows anything about this feast? No one! Even those who should be proclaiming My mercy and teaching people about it often do not know about it themselves. That is why I want the image to be solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter, and I want it to be venerated publicly so that every soul may know about it.”

Further Connections between the Aforementioned

+ Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos and St. Margaret Mary:

  • A little-known fact is that Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos – herself a great mystic – prophesied that Sr. [Saint] Margaret Mary would be instrumental in making known the Sacred Heart. Mother Marie Geltrude Provane de Leyni writes: “It is certain that in the year 1657 she [Sr. Jeanne] made known to me several of the graces of our Sister Mary Margaret Alacoque, of whom there was no talk as yet in our country. She told me that she was a person by whom God would be glorified, and that she would teach a very profitable devotion in the Church.” (p. 400 of Sr. Jeanne Benigne’s biography)

+ Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos and Sr. Benigna Consolata:

  • While Sr. Benigna was still living at home, her spiritual director gave her some books to read, including a biography of Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos. “The reading of these lives,” she writes, “cast more deeply the roots of my vocation.” (p. 41 of her biography)
  • The author of Sr. Benigna’s biography writes: “Our Honored Mother Maria-Louisa in giving her this name [Benigna/Benigne], seemed to enter into the designs of God since there was to be more than one trait of resemblance between these two privileged souls.” (p. 37)

+ Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos, Sr. Benigna Consolata and Sr. Consolata Betrone:

  • Mother de Chantal [St. Jane Francis de Chantal] writes: “I have endeavoured, more than for any other foundation [of Visitation nuns], to ask of God light to choose for that of Turin, which gives us the entrance into Italy, no subjects but those capable of taking into it the true spirit of our little Congregation. I hope that our Lord may have granted me this grace for them all, but I am sure I have obtained it with regard to Sister Jeanne Benigne.” (p. 20) (Sr. Benigna Consolata was born in Turin, and Sr. Consolata was transferred to, and died in, Turin.)
  • (Trivia: Jesus said to Sr. Benigna Consolata: “Thou shalt go to the Visitation. 1. Because it is My Will; 2. Because at the Visitation thou canst not only become holy, but thou canst attain to the degree of sublime perfection which I destine for thee; 3. For the spiritual good of others.” – p. 30)

+ Sr. Benigna Consolata and St. Therese:

  • Maria Consolata (Sr. Benigna Consolata) received several names, including Consolata, Rosalia, Philomena, and Theresa. The title of her biography is “The Tendernesses of the Love of Jesus for a Little Soul” – a title that was recommended by Our Lord Himself.
  • Therese compares herself to a “little ball”: “I had offered myself to the Holy Child some time before. I told him not to use me as a plaything for the worthy but as a little ball of no value that he could throw on the ground, kick, pierce, leave in a corner, hold close to his heart, as he wished; in a word, I wanted the Holy Child to play, I wanted to please him, I wanted to abandon myself to his childlike caprices.” Contrast these words with those of Sr. Benigna Consolata: “Jesus compares my soul to a ball, which when thrown violently to the ground, rises much higher than its point of departure; so my soul humbled by aridity rises again, by the grace of God, to the practice of pure love.” (from her biography)

+ St. Faustina and St. Margaret Mary:

  • Feb 15: Death and Feast Day of St. Claude Colombiere (St. Margaret Mary’s confessor) and Bl. Sopocko (St. Faustina’s confessor).

+ Sr. Benigna Consolata and St. Faustina:

  • Benigna Consolata died on September 1, 1916, at 3 o’clock (on a First Friday). Our Lord would later call this the “hour of great mercy,” reminding us at this time to implore His mercy, “especially for sinners.” Both St. Faustina and Sr. Benigna Consolata were Apostles of the Divine Mercy.

+ St. Therese, Yvonne-Aimee, Sr. Consolata Betrone and St. Faustina:

  • After her death, St. Therese spoke to Yvonne-Aimee and St. Faustina, and Our Lord spoke to Sr. Consolata about St. Therese. For example: “You will help me to shower roses upon the earth!” (St. Therese to Yvonne-Aimee)

A Final Word:

What does all this mean? Are some of these similarities mere coincidences?

In response to the first question, the following point must be reiterated: the message of Divine Mercy is the message for our times (every other message, such as the Holy Face devotion, is linked, at least implicitly, to the Divine Mercy). Only merciful love can cleanse this world of its “sinful filthiness” (Jesus to Sr. Consolata Betrone).

As to the latter: Well, there is no need to get bogged down by drawing minute philosophical distinctions, which will be of little profit to souls. Not every little event has a particular meaning, per se. Suppose you spill some curry on your new white shirt (purely hypothetical… *cough*); does this event have meaning? In a limited sense, perhaps.

“With God, nothing is empty of meaning.” (St. Irenaeus). We must distinguish between “meaning” with a capital ‘M’ and meaning with a lower case ‘m.’ We often cannot differentiate. Don’t bother trying (especially if it distracts you from God Himself). Simply know that the infinite Wisdom, Knowledge and Love of God ordains all things for our greater good.

Pax Domine!

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)

 

How to Attain Lasting Peace

“It is impossible to explain the abundance of this peace in the soul altogether given to God and seeking Him alone.” – Bl. Dom Columba Marmion

“Souls that do not wish to give all to Our Lord,” writes Bl. Dom Columba Marmion, “and to bring all their desires to unity by this total donation, cannot taste this true peace. They are divided, tossed to and fro between themselves and God, between the satisfaction of their self–love and obedience; they are the prey of trouble and disquiet. (Like St. Augustine, we should cleave to God, the immutable good).”

If we desire true peace, we must seek God with a pure heart. He has loved us first; let us love Him in return.

“One night while I was praying,” writes St. Veronica Giuliani, “I beheld issuing from the side of Our Saviour a liquid which exhaled a heavenly perfume, and it filled up a kind of fountain which stood before the Lord. I saw many souls plunge into it. The Lord gave me to understand that these were the pure souls who had given themselves absolutely to Him.”

“The more I am faithful to this little way of love,” writes Sr. Consolata Betrone, “the more is my soul flooded with joy and true peace that nothing is able to disturb, not even my continual falls. For, when I bring these to Jesus, He makes me remedy them through acts of humility, and these in turn increase the peace and joy in my heart.”

Ponder in your heart the profound truth of these words: “Our souls are made for God; unless they are set towards this end they are perpetually in agitation and trouble. Now St. Benedict wishes that we should have but this one and universal intention: That we should seek God… By the unity of this end, he brings unity to the manifold actions of our life, and especially into the desires of our being; and this is, according to St. Thomas one of the essential elements of peace… Our souls are troubled when they are torn by desires that bear upon a thousand different objects… when we seek God alone by an obedience full of abandonment and love, we sum up all things in the one thing necessary; and it is this that establishes strength and peace within us.” Bl. Dom Columba Marmion

If we simply do our duties for the love of God, seeking always to purify our intentions, then we will surely taste the sweetness of Our Lord’s yoke. He is the Way: let us follow Him; He is the Truth: let us trust Him; He is the Life: let us unite ourselves to Him, Who will lead us safely to Paradise. The more sinful we have been in the past, the greater right we have to trust in His infinite love, which is the source of all our good desires. If we desire Him, He desires us still more (as He revealed to St. Margaret of Cortona).

In 1809, the Divine Precursor [St. John the Baptist] appeared to His humble servant, Bl. Elizabeth Canori–Mora. Showing her the Promised Land, He said: “Look! There the Divine Paraclete awaits you, to celebrate with you celestial espousals. I will be your guide and conductor. O fortunate soul, what a happy fate is yours!” At these words, the Angels introduced her into the kingdom of Glory, and the Saint pointed out to her the Heavenly Palace, and began to describe its magnificence. Then he added: “But the door of this Palace is narrow: those who enter must be humble and lowly.” (p. 116 of her biography)

Jesus to Marie–Dominique Moes (on the Feast of the Sacred Heart in 1859): “O blinded men, what has become of you? Have I not shed all My Blood for you, and given Myself to you for food? And all that was not enough to awaken a return of love in you? Ah, what sorrow for My loving Heart!”

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