“For our God is a consuming fire.”
– Hebrews 12:29
Many of the Saints experienced an inexplicable mystical phenomenon; their love for God was so vehement that, at times, their heart would burn with divine love. The sweetness that often accompanies this delightful fire is expressed by St. Gemma Galgani:
“For the last eight days I have felt something mysterious in the area of my heart that I cannot understand. The first couple of days I disregarded it, because it gave me only a little trouble. But today is the third day, and this fire has increased, oh so much, as to be almost unbearable. I should need ice to put it out, and it hinders my eating and sleeping. It is a mysterious fire that comes from within, then goes to the outside. It is, however, a fire that does not torment me, rather it delights me, but it also exhausts and consumes me.”
Many Saints experienced these flames of divine love, including St. Padre Pio, St. Catherine of Genoa, St. Therese, St. Mary Magdalene dei Pazzi, and many others. They are a gratuitous gift from God. According to the Saints, we should never ask for such graces. If we do receive them, we should thank God, whilst remembering that the gift is not greater than the Giver! We must also stay humble; Our Lord warned Sr. Josefa of a nun whose soul was in great danger because she took credit for the graces she had received (1 Corinthians 4:7). God warns us about pride because He loves us.
Remember that the Holy Spirit appeared as “tongues of fire” at Pentecost. The more time we spend with Jesus in prayer, and the more we accept everything as coming from His merciful Providence, the more we will grow in divine love.
“Love is not an effect of headwork, not a pushing forward of will to give to it greater force. It is the result of accepting generously all sacrifices, in accepting with a loving heart all trials.” – Saudreau
God’s love for us is so ardent that Our Lord said to Bl. Alexandrina:
“If you knew how much I love you, you would die of joy.”
Love does not require “nice feelings.” Even Jesus suffered desolation, yet His love is unchanging! No, a lover is someone who seeks to please their Beloved, regardless of feelings. If we live lives of prayer and sacrifice, we can be sure that we love God. When we receive the Eucharist, we receive God Himself! Bl. Imelda was so inflamed with love of God that she died of love when making her first communion!
What hinders our love of God?
– Deliberate sin (including venial sin)
– Excessive indulgence of the senses (overeating, sloth etc.)
– Infrequent prayer
– Lack of spiritual reading
Avoid these things, and recall the words of Our Lord to Sr. Josefa Menendez:
“Behold the Heart that gives life to souls; the fire of this love is stronger than the indifference and ingratitude of men.”
… And to St. Faustina:
“Let the sinner not be afraid to approach Me. The flames of mercy are burning Me – clamouring to be spent; I want to pour them out upon these souls. Gather all sinners from the entire word and immense them in the abyss of My mercy. I want to give Myself to souls; I yearn for the souls.”
”Oh what precious moments these are! It is a delight that can only be compared to the heavenly joy of the Angels and Saints. Yes, I am happy, because I possess You, oh Jesus. Oh Jesus, with what joy it fills me to know that I possess You! But, my God, if You deal so with us on earth, what must it be like in heaven!”
– St. Gemma Galgani