6 Easy Ways to Grow in Divine Love

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Jesus Christ, the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Rev. 18:19), is infinitely rich and generous; nothing and no one can exhaust the treasures of His Sacred Heart. But we must avail ourselves of these precious graces.

“My Heart is overflowing on all sides. It can no longer contain all the graces that souls unceasingly repel. Take them, My child, take them.”

– Jesus to Sr. Gertrude Mary (Dec. 26, 1906, from ‘Divine Communications,’ vol. I, Rev. Auguste Saudreau)

God always makes the first move; we never seek Him without the previous inspiration of grace. ‘You have not chosen me: but I have chosen you.’ (John 15:16) “There,” writes G.K. Chesterton, “is the great lesson of ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ that a thing must be loved before it is lovable.” ‘Let us therefore love God, because God first hath loved us.’ (1 John 4:19)

He wishes to establish His most gentle reign in each and every one of our hearts, which are infinitely precious to Him, more precious than any earthly kingdom – not because there is a deficiency in God, but because of His pure love, a love that seeks only to communicate goodness and joy to the beloved.

Apart from Divine Love, all is vanity; God alone is; He is the Beginning and the End of all the deepest yearnings of the human heart; outside of Him there is nothing but vexation and want.

Almighty God, Who is the Divine Husbandmen, reveals His love for us by stripping us of all that could be an impediment to His Divine action within us. Because of our frailty, our sinful attachments, and our wavering faith, this is often a painful process. But God is all-wise, all-good and all-powerful; He knows what He is doing, and He alone can bring it about. It is only reasonable, then, to practice abandonment. To offer ourselves to One so good is an incalculable gain – even when, or especially when, we feel the sting. ‘As it hath pleased the Lord, so is it done. Blessed be the name of the Lord!’ (Job 1:21)

Here, then, are some simple, albeit powerful, ways to grow in love:

(1) Draw Riches from the Treasury of the Sacred Heart

Imitate St. Mechtilde, St. Gertrude and many others, by offering to God His own love and merits to supply for what was is wanting to you.

The same goes for offering God the love and merits of the saints and angels, all of which can be drawn from the Saviour’s Adorable Heart. ‘And all My things are thine, and thine are Mine; and I am glorified in them’ (John. 17:10).

If we are all His, He is all ours. ‘I to my Beloved, and my Beloved to me, who feedeth among the lilies’ (Cant. of Cant. 6:3).

+ Examples:

    1. Offer the Rosary in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Blessed Fruit of her womb, by uniting it to all the Masses said throughout the world, to the Angelic Salutation of St. Gabriel, to the greeting of St. Elizabeth, and to the perfect love that drew God from Heaven to Earth.
    2. Unite your every action, thought, heartbeat, breath etc., to the Sacred Heart and to all the love that animated Our Lady and the Saints.
    3. In preparation for receiving the Adorable Eucharist, offer God the fervent love with which the Saints received Him, as well as His own perfect love in giving Himself to us.
    4. Offer the infinite love and perfect obedience of Jesus to God the Father, in thanksgiving for every grace that He has ever given any of His creatures, or that He has ever desired to give (but has been impeded from doing so due to our obstinacy). Does a parent not deserve to be thanked for the gifts that they desire to bestow on their children, even when the children do not accept them? [The fruits of this practice are immense]

“When thou shalt offer Me to God the Father for the joy and glory of the Saints, their happiness and recompense shall be increased, as though they had received Me corporally on the earth.” (A beautiful and extremely powerful way to honour the Saints, and to honour God in His Saints!)

– Jesus to St. Mechtilde (‘The Love of the Sacred Heart’)

(2) Aspirations

Love alone gives our actions value; souls are not saved and God is not glorified, save by charity. Aspirations are an easy way to keep the fire of love burning in our hearts. We were created to love God; all else is false, empty, vain, a precious waste of precious time.

I have written about aspirations before:

https://littlestsouls.wordpress.com/2016/03/06/aspirations-an-easy-way-to-attain-holiness-and-joy/

“If I knew I should receive £1 for each one [aspiration] I made, I would not waste a spare moment. And yet I get infinitely more than this, though I often fail to realise it.”

“This morning I lay awake powerless to over come myself and to make my promised visit to the chapel. Then I felt prompted to pray; I said five aspirations and rose without difficulty. How many victories I could win by this easy and powerful weapon!”

– Fr. William Doyle (d. 1917)

(3) Spiritual Communions

Many Saints highly recommend this practice. St. Francis de Sales made a spiritual Communion every fifteen minutes or so; Sr. Benigna Consolata, a spiritual daughter of St. Francis de Sales, was told by Our Lord to make them even more frequently.

St. Alphonsus tells us that Jesus appeared to a certain pious soul, showing her two precious vases, one gold, the other silver. “In the golden vessel,” He said, “I keep sacramental Communion, and in the silver vessel spiritual Communion.” (‘Visits to the Blessed Sacrament,’ TAN)

And to Blessed Jane of the Cross, our Saviour spoke these enlightening words: “As often as you make a spiritual Communion I send you a grace which is in a measure similar to the grace which I grant you in sacramental Communion.”

St. Teresa of Avila writes: “When you do not receive Communion and you do not attend Mass, you can make a spiritual communion, which is a most beneficial practice; by it the love of God will be greatly impressed on you.” [The Way of Perfection, Ch. 35.]

“If you practice the holy exercise of Spiritual Communion a good many times each day, within a month you will see yourself completely changed.”

– St. Leonard of Port Maurice

(4) Meditation on the Last Things

Death, Judgement, Heaven, Hell – also known as the four last things… that most people care to think about. Which is a great tragedy, because the truth is eternal and does not change to suit our fancy.
St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows was once asked how he could possibly bear to spend his days as a religious. Time flies, he replied, when one is thinking about Heaven! If only we had the faintest notion of what awaits those who love God! Mother Agnes (Pauline), the sister of St. Therese (and my dear little sister), shared with her a beautiful story in which a religious appeared to her sister (also a religious) shortly after her death, saying: “I am going to God; oh! I am not sorry for having humbled and annihilated myself for Jesus on earth. If you only knew what glory I am going to have, but God has not permitted me to reveal it to you because you would experience too great a joy and your way is the way of suffering.” (p. 582, ‘Letters of St. Therese,’ ICS Publications)
44. “To fear the days of judgment.
45. To be in dread of hell.
46. To desire everlasting life with all spiritual longing.
47. To keep death daily before one’s eyes.”

– From the ‘Instruments of Good Works,‘ from the Rule of St. Benedict

(5) Lectio Divina

St. Jerome, writing about a holy man of his time, says that he made his heart “a library for Christ.” So often it is the case that individuals fill their hearts and minds with present troubles, with worldly things and with innumerable other sources of distraction or anxiety, ranging from mere trifles to great evils. Let us have none of this. Let us meditate often on the life-giving words of God; ‘lay up His words in thy heart‘ (Job 22:22), and draw upon them day and night; they will purify you, they will inflame you, and they will set your heart on things eternal. Without this, there can be no joy; our heart longs for the infinity of the horizon; what we truly desire – whether or not we realise it – lies beyond this crumbling world.

To truly profit from spiritual reading and meditation, the end must always be that we come to know and love God more – and this, principally, by means of prayer, without which there can be no lasting growth in wisdom and charity. ‘The mouth of the just shall meditate wisdom’ (Ps. 38:30).

“At the Last Judgment I shall not  ask souls if they have read much, but what fruit  they have drawn from their reading.”

– Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata Ferrero

(6) …

The final means for growing in Divine Love deserves/requires a post of its own. Also, I have run out of time (even with a generous extension). Hopefully it will be ready by next Sunday.

+ PAX +

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)

 

 

The Secret to Happiness

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“Blessed indeed would we be if we received everything that happens as from God’s fatherly hand.”

– St. Francis de Sales

St. Alphonsus Liguori relates (‘Uniformity with God’s Will’) that Alphonsus the Great, King of Aragon, when asked whom he considered to be the happiest person in the world, replied:

“HE WHO ABANDONS HIMSELF TO THE WILL OF GOD AND ACCEPTS ALL THINGS, PROSPEROUS AND ADVERSE, AS COMING FROM HIS HANDS.” 

This is the key to happiness! ‘As for my God, His way is undefiled: the words of the Lord are fire tried: He is the protector of all that trust in Him.’ (Ps. 18:30) ‘And let them trust in thee who know thy name: for thou hast not forsaken them that seek thee, O Lord.’  (Ps. 9:10)

‘Who is wise, and will keep these things: and will understand the mercies of the Lord?’ (Ps. 107:43)

Adorable is the Will of God!

“St. Mary Magdalene of  Pazzi derived such consolation at hearing the words “will of God,” that   she usually fell into an ecstasy of love.” (St. Alphonsus)

“[Everything] I give or permit happens for the sanctification of My servants.” (The Eternal Father to St. Catherine of Siena)

“It sometimes happens that the just for their greater merit have a most painful death. This is in order that those who have loved virtue may at once soar up to Heaven freed from their sins.” (Jesus to St. Bridget)

“Abandonment to the Will of God is the secret of happiness on earth. Say, then: meus cibus est, ut faciem voluntatem ejus: my food is to do His Will.” (St. Josemaria Escriva, # 766, p. 181, ‘The Way’)

“An act of complete acceptance of the Will of God: ‘Is that what you want, Lord? … Then it’s what I want also!” (St. Josemaria Escriva, #762, p. 180, ‘The Way’)

“The soul that really loves, accepts all from the Hands of its Good Master. It is enough that He gives it, to make the gift welcome.” (Dom Pius de Hemptinne, p. 254, ‘A Disciple of Dom Marmion’)

Imitate Little St. Therese

“You have had many trials today,” someone said to St. Therese. “Yes, but I love them. I love everything that the dear God gives to me.”

“Nothing is too great to suffer in order to win the palm of eternal life.” – St. Therese

A Revelation to St. Bridget

From ‘Book 5, The Book of Questions, Interrogation 13’:

Third question. “Why do some people suffer excessive hardship, while others live more or less free from hardship?”

Answer to the third question. “As to why greater hardships are given to some, I answer: I am the Maker of all things. Thus, no hardship comes without My permission, as it is written: ‘I am God creating woe,’ (Isaiah 45:7) that is, permitting hardship. Hardship does not befall the heathen without me and without a reasonable cause… those who had neglected and abused reason might be taught by suffering, and in order that I, God, who permitted it all, should be known and glorified by every nation…

There is indeed less hardship for some and more for others in order to turn people away from sin and so that those who suffer hardships in the present might be comforted in the future. All those who are judged and who judge themselves in this age will not come into future judgment. As it is written: ‘They shall pass from death into life.’ There are also some that are protected from suffering, but this happens so that they do not incur a harsher judgment by grumbling at their sufferings. Many there are who do not deserve to suffer in this world.

There are also some people in this life who are afflicted neither in body nor in spirit. They pass their lives as carefree as though God did not exist, or as though God is sparing them for the sake of their righteous works. Such people should be filled with dread for fear that I, God, who spare them in the present, come suddenly and condemn them more harshly as being without contrition.

There are also those who enjoy health of body but are troubled in their soul about the contempt of God, while others enjoy neither health of body nor inner consolation of soul and yet persevere as far as they are able in my service and honor. There are others, too, who are always sick, from their mother’s womb up until their death. I, the God of all of these, regulate their sufferings so that nothing happens without cause or reward, for many people, who were asleep before their trials, have their eyes opened by suffering.”

The Perfect Prayer

Jesus: “THY WILL BE DONE” (Mt. 6:10)

Mary: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.” (Lk. 1:38) [A powerful prayer, to be repeated frequently throughout the day, is “FIAT” – “Be it done…”]

“I cannot tell you what a beautiful thing the Will of God seems to me. For some years past, my Communions, my prayers, my intentions have all been for God’s Will to be done.”

– St. Mary MacKillop

 

Daily Revelation and Reflection: The Love of God (#4)

 “If you knew the great advantages and splendid fruits of your sufferings for the noble intentions I recommended to you, you would be ready to sacrifice a thousand lives if necessary, to gain this inexpressible benefit for My Church.”

– Jesus to Mother Dominique-Marie Clare (d. 1895)

Why do we despise sufferings? Temptations? Trials? God permits them for our greater good. They are great blessings if we know how to make use of them. When tried by suffering, we must imitate Mary. She never stopped searching for Jesus; He was her Life and All.

A story is told of St. Margaret Mary in which she addressed these words to Our Lord before receiving Holy Communion: “O my Lord, teach me what you wish me to say to You.”

Jesus replied:

“Nothing, My child, except these words: O my God, my sole Good and my All, You are all for me, and I am all for You. These words will keep you from all kinds of temptations; they will supply for all the acts you would fain do; and they will serve as a preparation for your actions.’ 

“An act of perfect conformity to the will of God unites us more to Him than a hundred other acts of virtue.” (St. Alphonsus).

“Your sufferings have great value because they are united to Mine.”

– Jesus to Marie Brotel

Daily Revelation and Reflection: The Love of God (#2)

“In order that all might be saved, He came into the world, taking flesh from me, and endured His passion and death on the cross.” 

-Our Lady to St. Bridget of Sweden

St. Leonard of Port Maurice said that if all returned to God with contrite hearts, all would be saved. Unfortunately, many souls do not avail themselves of the graces that God gives (and wishes to give) them. Many – even Christians – are spiritually dead in mortal sin. And to think that many Christians reject this doctrine!

Mortal sin is “a chain of hell” (St. Alphonsus); it is “the assassin of the soul” and “the crucifier of God,” (St. John Vianney); it is irrational and selfish. “In committing a mortal sin,” writes St. Alphonsus, “you have been guilty of a greater fault than if you trod under foot the loftiest monarch of a world.”

“… each soul separates itself from Me, its Head and Source of Life, as often as it sins mortally.”

– Jesus to Bl. Battista Varani

This might all have us feeling a bit heavy-hearted. But do not worry. God, Who is all-merciful, is ever seeking sinners. He is always seeking to use our prayers and sufferings for the salvation of souls.

If our sins are immense, the love and mercy of God is greater still. He never rejects a contrite heart (Ps. 51:17). But we must repent while there is time. ‘The Lord delayeth not his promise, as some imagine, but dealeth patiently for your sake, not willing that any should perish, but that all should return to penance’ (2 Pet. 3:9).

Some powerful sermons to help us root out sin

Sermon XX (‘On the evil effects of bad habits,’ p. 145) AND Sermon XXI (‘On the evil effects of bad habits,’ p. 152) by St. Alphonsus:

https://archive.org/details/sermonsforallsun00liguuoft

Superstitious Fears are Not from God

11:11, 666, dreams, certain words or events… these are things that plague the minds of some; they are afraid that it might be some kind of bad “omen.”

God tells us not to fear. ‘Fear not, for I am with thee: turn not aside, for I am thy God…’ (Isaiah 41:10). He created us for eternal life. While we are alive, there is always hope of salvation. God cannot deceive; if He calls us to Himself; if we hear His voice, or feel the touch of His grace – however weak it might seem, then we can have absolute confidence that if we trust in God and love Him, we will be saved.

… Aren’t all these other things superfluous? Besides, God is the Father of Lights; when He communicates with us, His message brings clarity. All these oppresive fears are not the work of God.

If it can be demonstrated that the greatest fear – damnation – is vain and irrational (so long as we desire to do God’s will), then all the lesser fears will hopefully lose their power.

St. Alphonsus does just this. Read his consoling words:

“I wish here to propose a doubt, which may rise in the mind of one who loves God, and strives to conform himself in all things to his blessed will. If it should be ever revealed to such a one that he would be eternally lost, would he be obliged to bow to it with resignation, in order to practise conformity with the will of God? St. Thomas says no; and further, that he would sin by consenting to it, because he would be consenting to live in a state that involves sin, and is contrary to the last end for which God created him; for God did not create souls to hate him in hell, but to love him in heaven: so that he does not wish the death even of the sinner, but that all should be converted and saved. The holy Doctor says that God wishes no one to be damned except through [i.e. as a consequence of] sin; and therefore, a person, by consenting to his damnation, would not be acting in conformity with the will of God, but with the will of sin. But suppose that God, foreseeing the sin of a person, should have decreed his damnation, and that this decree should be
revealed to him, would he be bound to consent to it? In the same passage the saint says, By no means; because such a revelation must not be taken as an irrevocable decree – but made merely by way of communication, as a threat of what would follow if he persists in sin.

But let every one banish such baneful thoughts from his mind, as only calculated to cool his confidence and love. Let us love Jesus Christ as much as possible here below; let us always be sighing to go hence and to behold him in paradise, that we may there love him perfectly; let us make it the grand object of all our hopes, to go thither to love him with all our strength.”

“When you advance in virtue, you give up the imperfection of fear.”

– God to St. Catherine of Siena

**Given that this is my 200th post on Littlest Souls, I would like to sincerely thank every reader, commenter and pray-er (i.e. those who have prayed for me or the “success” of Little Souls).

Thank you and God bless!

6 Eucharistic Books That May Change Your Life (Excerpts included)

The following books are classics. Really. At least one of them should be read by every Catholic. Better yet – every Christian. The Eucharist is simply too important to be misunderstood, undervalued or neglected.

If, to obtain $100,000 a day, all it took was a daily visit to a church, who would be mad enough not to attend? Yet Jesus offers Himself to us without reserve in the Mass, and almost no one pays any real attention! Are we not aware of the infinite good that Our Lord offers us in every Mass?

“Every degree of grace is in itself infinitely valuable, more precious than all created things in Heaven or on earth, a treasure for which we should, with the Apostle, count all things as loss, that we may gain Christ and His grace.”

(From “The Glories of Divine Grace”)

There are poor souls hastening towards perdition, greatly in need of prayer. You can do nothing more charitable than to save a soul… nothing! And the most effective means by which you can do this is to offer the Holy Mass (in which Our Lord prays for us and offers the Sacrifice of Himself!) for the conversion of sinners! And the greater your fervour at Mass; the greater your faith; the greater your holiness (and purity of intention), the more eagerly will God grant your prayers!

The most urgent need in the world today is not food, shelter, wealth, success, or any other temporal thing; it is love. In particular, it is the love of God, which redeems, purifies, vivifies and saves. And where do we find God’s love most abundantly? In the Mass. At Mass, Our Lord offers Himself mystically, just as He did on Calvary. ‘Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends’ (John 15:13).

“One more Mass! One more Mass!” – Fr. Mateo Crawley Boevey

How blessed would many Christians consider themselves if they knew that they were going to be visited one day by Our Lord! How they would prepare their hearts; how meticulously they would prepare their appearance. Yet Jesus is truly present in the Tabernacle, waiting to descend into our hearts, and almost no one pays any real attention!

Please, dear reader: if you have not already done so, please consider reading at least one of the following books. Ideally, read it a few times; otherwise it will be impossible to extract all its goodness.

1. ‘Explanation of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass’ (aka ‘The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass Explained,’ or, ‘The Incredible Catholic Mass’) by Rev. Martin von Cochem:

https://archive.org/stream/explanationofthe00maesuoft#page/n3/mode/2up

[Excerpt: “St. Bridget, who was permitted to witness in spirit what went on in the heights of heaven during the consecration, says that she saw the sacred host, under the appearance of a living lamb, enveloped in flames, surrounded by angels, countless in number as the motes in the sunbeam, adoring and serving Him, as did also an innumerable multitude of the blessed.”]

2. ‘The Blessed Eucharist, Our Greatest Treasure’ by Rev. Michael Muller:

https://archive.org/stream/theblessedeuchar00meuluoft#page/n5/mode/2up

[Excerpt: “But you will ask perhaps: ‘Why does our Lord hide Himself under the outward appearances of bread and wine? Why does He not manifest Himself under the sensible qualities of His body, with His wounded hands, His merciful countenance, His radiant majesty?’ Now, our Lord does so chiefly for two reasons. The first is, that we may not lose the merit of faith. Were we to see Jesus Christ as He is seen by the blessed in heaven, we could no longer make an act of faith in His Real Presence, for ‘faith is the belief in things which we do not see.’ Now, our Lord wishes to bestow on us, after this life, a great reward for our faith, as He Himself has said: ‘Blessed are they that do not see and yet believe.’ Many of the saints, in order not to lose the merit of their faith, have gone so far as to beg our Lord not to favor them with those consoling manifestations of Himself in the Blessed Sacrament which He has sometimes granted to His chosen servants.”]

3. ‘The Holy Mass: The Sacrifice for the Living and the Dead. The Clean Oblation Offered Up Among the Nations From the Rising to the Setting of the Sun’ by Rev. Michael Muller:

https://archive.org/stream/holymasssacrifi00mlgoog#page/n18/mode/2up

[Excerpt: “A certain holy Bishop of Breslau, named Nanker, entertained a most tender devotion for the holy Sacrifice of the Mass. He used to say Mass daily, and heard as many Masses besides as he possibly could. When at the point of death, a most sweet, heavenly melody was heard, and a voice from above said: ‘The soul of Bishop Nanker has already left the body, and is now being carried by the angels into heaven. This grace and honor have been bestowed upon him on account of his great love and devotion for the holy Sacrifice of the Mass.’]

4. ‘The Holy Eucharist’ by St. Alphonsus Liguori:

https://archive.org/stream/alphonsusworks06alfouoft#page/n3/mode/2up

[Excerpt: “Thence arise the following considerations which may aid us to hear Mass with great fruit: 1. By the oblation of the person of Jesus Christ, God and man, to the Eternal Father, we give to God infinite honor; we give him greater honor than he would receive from the oblation of the lives of all men and all angels. 2. By the oblation of Jesus Christ in the Mass, we offer to God a complete satisfaction for all the sins of men, and especially for the sins of those who are present at Mass; to whom is applied the same divine blood, by which the human race was redeemed on Calvary. Thus, by each Mass more satisfaction is made to God than by any other expiatory work. But although the Mass is of infinite value, God accepts it only in a finite manner, according to the dispositions of those who attend the holy sacrifice, and, therefore, it is useful to hear several Masses. 3. In the Mass we render to God an adequate thanksgiving for all the benefits that he has bestowed upon us. 4. During the Mass we can obtain all the graces that we desire for ourselves and for others. We are unworthy of receiving any grace from God, but Jesus Christ has given us the means of obtaining all graces, if, while we offer him to God in the Mass, we ask them of the Eternal Father in his name, for then Jesus himself unites with us in prayer. If you knew that while you pray to the Lord, the divine Mother, along with the whole of paradise, united with you, with what confidence would you pray? Now when you ask of God any grace during the Mass, Jesus (whose prayers are more efficacious than the prayers of all who are in heaven) prays for you, and offers in your behalf the merits of his Passion.”]

5. ‘The Hidden Treasure: Or, The Value and Excellence of Holy Mass’ by St. Leonard of Port Maurice:

https://archive.org/stream/hiddentreasureo01leongoog#page/n4/mode/2up

[Excerpt: “Go to the church as if you were going to Calvary, and behave yourself before the altar as before the throne of God, in company with the holy angels. See what modesty, what reverence, what attention, are requisite from us, in order that we may carry away the fruit and the blessings which Almighty God is wont to bestow on him who honours with devout demeanour these sacred mysteries. We read, that while the sacrifices of the Old Law were being offered by the Jews, sacrifices in which was offered nothing greater than bulls, lambs, and other animals, it was admirable to behold with what diligence, decorum, and silence, the whole people assisted; and although there were numbers innumerable of those attending, besides the seven hundred ministers who sacrificed, yet, with all this, it seemed as if the temple were empty, not the very slightest noise, not even a breath, being heard. Now, if so much respect and so much veneration were practised towards those sacrifices which, after all, were only a mere shadow, a simple figure of ours, what silence, what devotion, what attention, does not Holy Mass deserve, in which the Immaculate Lamb himself, the Divine Word, is offered for us in sacrifice!”

6. ‘The Blessed Sacrament; Or, The Works and Ways of God’ by Fr. F. W. Faber:

https://archive.org/stream/theblessedsacram00fabeuoft#page/n5/mode/2up

[Excerpt: “It is said that St. Michael revealed to St. Eutropius the Hermit that he had been chosen to be the guardian angel of the Blessed Sacrament; and that it had been entrusted to his charge ever since Holy Thursday; and there are also on record several revelations of his to various saints concerning the worship of the Blessed Sacrament. Some have supposed him to be the angel of the mass referred to in the canon; and he is spoken of at the beginning of mass in the Confiteor, again at the second incensing at the High Mass; and also in the offertory of masses of Requiem. Many saints and servants of God have had a peculiar devotion to the angel mentioned in the canon of the Mass, without deciding on his name or individuality.”]

St. Anthony of Padua, pray for us!

St. Faustina, pray for us!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Words from the Saints and Mystics on Humility

Words from the Saints and Mystics on Humility

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. “What more can you desire than to have within you the true source of all good, My Divine Heart? … All these great things are yours, all these treasures and riches are for the heart that I have chosen… Draw as much as you desire of these infinite delights and riches.” – Words of Our Lord to Mother Deleloë, a Benedictine nun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Sister Jeanne Benigne Gojos