Hidden Treasures of the Spiritual Life

“When a soul is burnt up with desire to love, nothing is a burden to her, but if she feels cold and spiritless everything becomes hard and difficult.”

– Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez (‘The Way of Divine Love,’ TAN Books)

Shortly after Jesus expired upon the Altar of the Cross on Calvary, His Sacred Heart was pierced with a lance. By allowing this to happen, Our Lord has revealed to us the infinite, tender and impenetrable depths of His vulnerable love; He has opened to us the infinite treasury of His graces, His mercy and His merits. And He desires to share these riches with us! What a shame for them to go to waste, for they were purchased with so much love and so much suffering!

‘Come to Me,’ He says, ‘all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you’ (Mt. 11:28. ‘And he that thirsteth, let him come: and he that will, let him take the water of life, freely’ (Rev. 22:17).

The water of life that gushes forth from the pierced Side of Christ is the life of grace, which is of greater worth than the created universe. Grace transforms even the most mundane, seemingly trivial actions, into everlasting rewards; grace “divinizes” our gifts by mingling them, so to speak, with the treasures found in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Everything we offer Him turns to gold. Ultimately, Jesus wants our hearts: ‘My son, give Me thy heart’ (Prov. 23:26).

“I would like them to know how much I desire their perfection, and that it consists in doing their ordinary actions in intimate union with Me. If they once grasped this, they could divinize their life and all their activities by this close union with My Heart.

– Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menenedez (‘The Way of Divine Love’)

“When I think that if God were to give us the entire universe with all its treasures that this would not be comparable to the lightest suffering.”

– St. Therese to her sister Celine (Carmel, October 20, 1888)

Suppose you are at home and someone leaves their dirty dishes in the sink. “Argh! What a grub!” This might be your first reaction. But look with the eyes of the faith. Our Lord has permitted this small inconvenience; and by accepting it for the love of Him Who suffered so much for you, you will be consoling Him for so much ingratitude that He meets with today, and you will be storing up for yourself an eternal reward. ‘If thou didst know the gift of God, and who he is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou perhaps wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water’ (Jn. 4:10).

“Above all, try and do ordinary things well. The opportunity to do great things comes rarely and you are quite capable of doing them when it does come. Just concentrate on doing the little things really well.”

– Jesus to Yvonee-Aimee

Every day, there are countless opportunites to love God; but how many look upon these occasions as gifts from God? If God aks much of us, it is because He desires to give much; a gift given to God is a gift received. This idea is found all throughout the writings of St. Therese, who, referring to the wisdom of P. Pichon, says that the greatest gift God can give us is not to give much, but to ask much.

In imitation of St. Therese, Sr. Gertrude Mary, Sr. Yvonne-Aimee, Sr. Josefa Menendez, and so many other little souls, let us strive for fidelity in little things, like Jesus, of Whom it is written: “HE HATH DONE ALL THINGS WELL” (Mk. 7:37).

Resolution:

Offer everything you do and everything you suffer to God, praising Him all the while. ‘Rejoice in the Lord always’ (Phil. 4:4). Remember that holiness is the flowering of God’s love in the soul; it is not the result of our efforts, but of our humble, confident acceptance of God’s love that seeks to transform our souls into Himself. (This requires effort; but it is not effort itself that sanctifies. The Holy Spirit is the Sanctifier, Who alone is competent to recreate within us the image of the Son of God.)

This was the practice of Sr. Gertrude Mary [d. May 24, 1908], who loved her God before all else. J.B. Lemius, the former Superior of Montematre, writes this: “The Sacred Heart has willed that this book* should be written; and will bless it… This little soul, so well beloved of Jesus, fascinates other souls. . . . She is worthy to rank beside little Teresa of Lisieux, and other flowers which our Lord has made to blossom in these days. I am convinced that we are face to face with an extraordinarily privileged soul.”

* https://archive.org/details/sistergertrudema00leguuoft

Our Lord said to her:

“My daughter, you have given Me everything. You have sacrificed the whole of your life to Me. In return I give you all the treasures of My Heart. They are at your disposal, for yourself, and for all the souls you love, and for whom you desire great things. Henceforth you can say to Me: Jesus, I have nothing more to offer Thee, but I love this soul, these souls, I owe them gratitude, and I address myself to Thy Divine Heart, for Thou Thyself hast told me to do so.”

She herself writes these incredible words:

“The Infinite seems to forget what He is and what I am.

He forgets His greatness and
dignity, in order to stoop to my nothingness.

O God, what art Thou doing? Thou dost
unite two contraries; for, if I seek what Thou art, and what I am, I reply:

Thou art the
Eternal, and I am a poor creature, a mere
nothing, which passes away.

Thou, my God, art
Infinite Sanctity, and I am only imperfection
and sin.

Thou art Infinite Power, and I am
weakness itself.

Thou art Uncreated Light,
and I am but darkness. . .

This is what Thou
art, and what I am.”

+BENEDICTUS DEUS+

 

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Some Saintly Insights into the “Little Way”

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Servant of God, Leonie Martin (sister of St. Therese)

‘The Lord is the keeper of little ones: I was little and he delivered me.’

– Psalm 116:6

When people hear of the “Little Way,” they generally think of (Little) St. Therese. This is understandable, considering the profound role she has played, and will continue to play, in making this doctrine better known, i.e. the doctrine of confident and complete abandonment to Merciful Love.

But it is important to know that St. Therese is only one of many “little souls” (or the “littlest ones,” as she desired to be). There are a number of other “little ones,” that, like St. Therese, have much to teach us. This post is devoted to them. Let us consider their wisdom:

+++

“Our deeds are not the best claim to merit before God. God inspires the thought and gives the strength. Our true Title to the Divine favour is the Blood of Christ, to which we have the right through our own destitution and humbly acknowledged frailty.”

– Dom Pius de Hemptinne, d. 1907 (p. 139, ‘A Disciple of Dom Marmion’)

+++

+ “And to make Jesus more promptly realize my desire [to become a religious], I treated Him as a little child treats her mother until she obtains what she wants. I tormented Jesus. How weary He must have grown of hearing me! But was it not He Himself who was inspiring this ardent desire of giving myself to Him, wholly and without reserve? Did He not really wish that I should importune Him in this way?”

– Sr. Gertrude Mary, d. 1908 (An extraordinary French mystic, who has often been compared to St. Therese.)

+++

+  “I wish to stay small, so that I can have the audacity to believe that I will not go to Purgatory.  I ask my Jesus that He Himself prepare me for His arrival.”

– Servant of God, Leonie Martin, sister of St. Therese, d. 1941 (A few days ago, on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, and the 153rd anniversary of the birth of Leonie, my “little sister,” I was told that I will be entering the novitiate earlier than expected! Thanks, little sister!)

+++

“I wish to stay small, so that I can have the audacity to believe that I will not go to Purgatory.  I ask my Jesus that He Himself prepare me for His arrival.”

– Servant of God, Sr. Jeanne Benigne Gojos, d. 1692 (Another extraordinary French mystic!)

+++

“I will suffer joyously since Jesus wills it; I will not seek calm and tranquillity, but let Jesus do around me whatever He pleases. I shall be faithful to the practice of virtue, even in the smallest things; for example, I shall be silent when I wish to speak, and speak when I would like to keep silence. May Jesus bless me, guide me, and enlighten me!”

– Servant of God, Sr. Benigna Consolata, d. 1916

+++

“Love is the soul of every life of prayer and of every good work.”

– Ven. Concepcion Cabrera de Armida, d. 1937

+++

“Never let yourself be depressed by the thought of your wretchedness. The great
St. Paul said: ‘Where sin abounded, grace did more abound.’ So it seems to me that the weakest, even the most sinful person has the greatest right to hope. By forgetting self and casting herself into the arms of God, she glorifies Him more than by any self-examination and self-reproach, which keep her attention fixed on her own defects though she possesses a Saviour within her Who is always willing to purify her.”

– Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity (soon to be declared a Saint!)

************

“I have only to ask; I hear the humble and trustful prayer of little ones.”

– Our Lady to Pere Lamy (p. 95, ‘Pere Lamy’)

************

A Rose from St. Therese

[Last week’s post was destroyed by the re-format monster. This is the second attempt.]

Exactly two months ago, I arrived at the monastery, thus marking the beginning of my Benedictine postulancy. I won’t say too much about my experience; but I would like to briefly share one experience with you.

Adopted by St. Therese and Her Family

Fr. Paul of Moll once remarked that life is full of crosses, and that the easiest path – and the most fruitful – is to do everything for the love of God. The Cross, writes Bl. Dom Columba Marmion, is the root of all fecundity.

Before entering the monastery, I was well aware that I was going to encounter the Cross. I think it was Marcelline Pauper who had a vision of numerous crosses of shapes and sizes, which represented the trials and tribulations that were ahead of her. I think we can all relate to this.

For me, the biggest cross that I have faced in the last 2 months is homesickness. All I will say is this: I wept like a baby in an onion factory. Twice. Or was it thrice? I actually don’t remember; I was a mess. Jetlag doesn’t help either – especially when combined with fatigue, sorrow for one’s sins, and a longing for Heaven that cannot be satisfied in this valley of tears.

Amidst all this, I felt inspired to send up a prayer to St. Therese and her family. (I have been reading the Letters of St. Therese in my spare time, and I must confess my love for St. Therese and her family; they are so pure in their faith, so affectionate, so simple, and so loving).

As I was lying on my bed one day, homesick (though to a much lesser extent than previously!), and reading the Letters of St. Therese, I felt inspired to offer one year of Masses in honour of St. Therese, her recently canonized parents, and her entire family. Immediately after making this intention and offering it to God and these holy souls, I felt inspired to  ask St. Therese and her siblings to adopt me as their little brother. I also asked St. Louis and St. Zelie to adopt me as their son. Then I forgot about it.

‘Longing to Belong’

The following day, I was in the scriptorium/library, which is home to some 3000 books (a rough estimate). I didn’t have much time for reading, so I picked up a random book that caught my eye, and started flicking hastily through the pages. A certain picture stood out. It was a beautiful photo of St. Therese and her family (actually it was a collection of photos that were framed under the heading, ‘Le Martin Familie’ or something French like that). I thought nothing of it at the time.

It was only later than night that I recalled my prayer the previous day. Then I considered the likelihood of stumbling upon a picture of the Martin family… in a book about a Benedictine monk.

“They have adopted me!” I thought. Now, you might think I jumped the gun a bit; but I experienced an overwhelming sense of joy at what seemed to be an answer to prayer.

Then the thought occurred to me: “Why is there a picture of the Martin family in a book about a Benedictine monk? … I wonder if he asked the Martin sisters to adopt him?” I don’t know why, but I half-expected the this. I wanted to check the book to find the answer, but I had to wait another day.

Thursday came, and I entered the scriptorium, full of anticipation and curiosity. I picked up the book (‘Longing to Belong: The Life of Dom Mayeul De Caigny’), and this is what I read:

“It is interesting to note that Sr. Marie du Sacre Coeur [Marie Martin, sister of St. Therese] always addresses Dom Mayeul [born March 29 – the day I arrived at the monastery] as her “brother.” At some early date, Dom Mayeul had asked the Martin sisters if they would accept him as their ‘adopted brother.’ The Martin family consisted of five girls, but no boys. They seemed very happy to welcome Dom Mayeul into the family circle as a surrogate ‘brother.’ (p. 348)

Long story, short: I was thrilled!

[I also discovered, one week later, that the day I made that prayer was May 17, the 91st anniversary of the canonization of St. Therese. How this little one looks after me! I expect the same from my new little family, too!]

That is all I have time for today!

+ Pax +

The Fruit of Good Intentions: A Vision Given to St. Mechtilde

‘A lady once consecrated her child to God, even before it was born, and desired that, if it proved to be a girl, she should be promised to God (in religion); but the child died at the age of two. Her soul appeared to St. Mechtilde as a most beautiful virgin, and said to her:

“All the gifts that I would have received from the Lord, if I had really taken the religious habit, have been given to me now by Him by an act of His great munificence, and I have in addition a special reward for having been consecrated to God from my mother’s womb.”

As this greatly surprised Mechtilde, the Lord said to her:

“Why be astonished? Are not baptised children saved through the faith of others? I accepted the very definite will of the mother for the deed, and in her child I reward all the good things she had desired for her.”
“But why, O Beloved,” asked the saint, “did You take that child so soon?”
“She was so attractive,” replied the Lord, “that it was inexpedient for her to remain on earth. Her father would, later on, when her elder sister died, have broken her mother’s vow, and would have kept her for the world.”
– ‘Divine Communications,’ Vol. I, p. 56 (Rev. Auguste Saudreau)

St. Mechtilde, along with St. Gertrude, may well be called the Saint of desires. It was the near-constant practice of these two mystics to unite their prayers, their desires, their intentions, their works – in a word, everything that they did – to something greater than themselves; to something far greater than their own “little” hearts could offer. And God Himself took great delight in this; He encouraged it, and He often explicitly made known that He took the intention or desire for the act! What generosity! It is as if a peasant wished to honour his king, but, having nothing of his own to give, told the king that, if he were rich, he would make over his riches to the king.

To give one example: St. Mechtilde would unite her intentions before receiving the Adorable Eucharist, to all the loving intentions with which Our Lord has ever been received; for example, by Our Lady and the Saints. Likewise, we may unite our praise of Mary to the praise given her by the Archangel Gabriel, St. Elizabeth, and the Blessed in Heaven. There is great joy in “inventing” such ways to perfect our prayers, to honour God, and to grow in confidence.

God’s generosity is immeasurable; we should particularly take advantage of God’s goodness – so to speak – at Holy Mass. Fr. Garrigou Lagrange, O.P., reminds us that the bounty of God is infinite; we may ask of Him 5 things or 500 things. Be bold in your prayers; it is better to ask too much than too little. Don’t be too calculating; even God Himself does not know arithemtic, as Little Therese says.

Have no worries at all that you will be damned; if you fall, kiss the Adorable Face of your Divine Friend, renew your good resolutions, and move on. This was the practice of St. Therese. “There,” she would say; “all is forgiven.” Better still, imitate St. Mechtilde and thank God *here and how* for saving you; He cannot fail to reward such confidence (provided that we sincerely make an effort to love Him). Read St. Mechtilde and St. Gertrude if you doubt this.

‘Once when Mechtilde was praying for a certain person, she saw that person’s soul as [if] it were a little child within the Divine Heart. And Our Lord said:

“Let her come to Me thus in all her troubles, let her cling to My Divine Heart and seek comfort there, and I will never abandon her.”
– ‘Divine Communications,’ Vol. I, p. 125

Little St. Therese, pray for us.
St. Gertrude, pray for us.
St. Mechtilde, pray for us.
Sr. Gertrude Mary, pray for us.
Sr. Benigna Consolata, pray for us.

[The computer I am currently using has forced me to use a different format for posts… hopefully I will resolve this soon, so I can include pictures etc.]

Devotion to the Holy Face: A Key to Happiness and Final Perseverance!

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“I will defend them, I will preserve them and I assure them of Final Perseverance.”

– Jesus to Sr. Mary of St. Peter

(The revelation above is taken from the promises He gave her, regarding those who devote themselves to making reparation to His Holy Face).

Shrove Tuesday (February 9): Feast of the Holy Face

This coming Tuesday (February 9) is the Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus. How I have come to love this devotion! Some have a devotion to the Precious Blood; others to the Holy Wounds; others to the Sacred Humanity; others to the Passion of Our Lord – these are all admirable devotions. But do we realise that devotion to the Face of Christ, in a sense, combines all of these devotions?

Behold the Face of Christ, which was spat upon, beaten and mocked; behold the Precious Blood dripping down His Adorable Face; look upon the Wounds left by the Crown of Thorns; look at that Sacred Flesh torn by the malice of our sins; consider that, according to several chosen souls, the pain inflicted by the Crown of Thorns was one of His most intense sufferings! How can we not console this God, Who suffered so much for us? What will we do for Him? ‘I looked about, and there was none to help: I sought, and there was none to give aid…’ (Is. 63:5)

The Feast of the Holy Face is a truly glorious Feast; if you have the opportunity to attend Mass, you must! At every Mass, the Risen Lord is made present on our Altars; that Adorable Face, which is the delight of the Blessed, looks at us with infinite sweetness, hoping that our eyes will meet His. How blessed are those who make their souls a living Tabernacle for Love Incarnate! How fortunate, we say, was St. Thomas, to have placed his hand in the side of Christ. Do we not realise that we receive the same Christ into our souls?!

Before looking in greater detail at what some of the Saints have written about the Holy Face, let us pause to consider a few of the reasons why devotion to the Holy Face is so important:

  1. The Scriptures frequently tell us to seek the Face of God. ‘Seek ye the Lord, and his power: seek ye His Face evermore.’(1 Chron. 16:11) ‘Seek ye the Lord, and be strengthened: seek His Face evermore.’(Ps. 105:4)
  2. The Face of Jesus gives us confidence. His Divine Countenance is full of love and mercy; He is love and mercy, and His Face reflects the Love that consumes His Sacred Heart. How often have sinners been converted by looking at an image of Christ! Who can look at the Face of Jesus Crucified and not be moved? Our Lord said to St. Faustina that His Face on the image she had struck (the Divine Mercy image) resembles His expression from the Cross. Similarly, Our Lord told Sr. Benigna Consolata that, while hanging on the Cross, He unopened His bloody Eyes to look with tenderness upon His executioners, upon us!
  3. The Face of Jesus radiates light, warmth and life. “Frequently during her meditations, St. Gertrude saw the Divine Countenance of our Saviour resplendent as the sun, illuminating priests, inflaming the devout and converting sinners. Once she asked why the blessed Countenance of our Redeemer shone like the sun, and she received this explanation:

“Like the sun, My Countenance illuminates, warms and fructifies.”

  1. Jesus demands reparation in these very sinful times. Jesus is the Head of the Church; when the Church is persecuted, Jesus suffers (retroactively; He cannot suffer now). Our Lord has revealed to many of His Saints that the world is going to ruin because there is no one to make reparation. “Souls are not saved if nothing is done for them.” (Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata) The Face of Christ is suffering much; we must offer It, then, in reparation for sins. To the extent that the Divine Countenance is obscured by the wounds inflicted upon It by sinners, we must adore It.
  2. The Face of Jesus is one of the most efficacious means of effacing sins, growing in Divine Love, and saving our souls (as we shall see).

The Saints and the Holy Face

Many of the Saints had an ardent devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus; they loved Him by contemplating Him in His sufferings, and in His glory. Some of these holy souls include St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, St. Mechtilde, St. Gertrude, Ven. Leo DuPont, Sr. Mary of St. Peter, St. Edmund and Bl. Maria Pierina de Micheli.

Some Anecdotes and Revelations

+ “My child, as long as you look at Me, you will love Me; as long as you look at Me, you will serve Me; when you do not look at Me, you will not follow Me.” – Jesus to Armelle (‘Divine Communications,’ p. 235, Vol. 1)

++ “O Lord,” said St. Mechtilde; “enlighten the face of my soul with the brightness of Thy countenance.” Our Lord replied:

“The face of thy soul is the image of the Holy Trinity. The soul should see this image reflected in My face as in a mirror, and see whether he finds some stain in that image.”

Mechtilde understood that we should often contemplate our soul in this divine Mirror, the face of Jesus Christ, so as to discover any stains that might disfigure it, and wash them away before Holy Communion. Purity of conscience, then, is the first preparation, but the Sacred Heart expects more.”

+++ “All those who meditate frequently on the vision of My Divine Face, attracted by the desires of love, shall receive within them, by the virtue of My Humanity, a bright ray of My Divinity, which shall enlighten their inmost souls, so that they shall reflect the light of My countenance in a special manner in eternity.”

– Jesus to St. Gertrude

++++ “At the hour of Terce, our Lord appeared to St. Gertrude in the position in which He was when tied to the pillar between two executioners, one of whom tore Him with thorns, and the other bruised Him with a whip full of large knots; both striking His Face, which seemed so disfigured, that her very heart melted away with compassion; nor could she restrain her tears whenever she recalled that mournful spectacle during the day, since it appeared to her that none upon earth had ever been so cruelly used as her sweet Lord Jesus. Even the very pupil of the eye was torn and inflamed, both by the thorns and the blows of the scourge. It appeared also to her that her Lord turned His blessed Face from side to side; but when He turned it from one executioner, the other struck it still more furiously; then He turned to her, and exclaimed:

“Have you not read what is written of Me: Vidimus eum tanquam leprosum? “We have thought Him as it were a leper” (Is. liii. 4).

The Saint replied: “Alas, Lord ! what remedy can we find to soothe the agonising pains of Thy Divine Face!”

Our Lord replied:

The most efficacious and the tenderest remedy which you can prepare for Me is to meditate lovingly on My Passion, and to pray charitably for the conversion of sinners. These two executioners represent the laity, who offend God openly, striking Him with thorns, and the religious, who strike Him still more unpitiably with the knotted cords of secret sins. But both offend Him to the face, and outrage the very God of heaven.”

+++++ Meditation on the Sixth Station of the Cross (revealed to Sr. Benigna Consolata): Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

The religious soul, My spouse, says the Lord, is the little Veronica, who wipes My face every time that she mortifies herself: the veil with which she wipes it, is her soul in which I leave My divine Features portrayed. The more pure and spotless the soul is, the more capable is she of receiving My divine Lineaments. If thou wouldst arrive near to Me thou must pass across My enemies, who are thine also, and from whom thou wilt have much to suffer; but the consolation which a single one of My divine Looks will impart, will repay thee with usury.

Pause, O good Jesus! I am very small, but I will rise on tiptoe to wipe Thy Face. I will use the very finest linen, the whitest and most delicate; and I will prepare this linen for Thee by my fidelity in three things: purity of intention, charity toward my neighbor, and the most ardent love possible toward Thee; and do Thou, O Jesus, celestial Beauty, give me a perpetual remembrance of Thee!

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!

++++++ “As Gertrude prayed for a person who had an ardent desire to advance in perfection, she received this instruction:

“Tell her from Me, that if she desires to unite herself to Me by the tie of special love, she must, like a noble bird, make a nest at My feet of the branches of her own nothingness and the palms of My greatness, where she may repose by a continual remembrance of her unworthiness, because man is always inclined to evil of himself, and not to good, unless he is prevented by My grace. Let her often reflect on My mercy, and on the paternal goodness with which I am ready to receive men when they have fallen, if they return to Me by penance. When she desires to leave this nest in order to seek for food, she must fly into My bosom, wherein, with affectionate gratitude, she must reflect on the different blessings with which I have enriched her by My superabundant kindness. If she desires to fly further, and to ascend higher on the wings of her desires, she must rise with the swiftness of an eagle to the contemplation of heavenly things, which are above her; she must fly around My face, supported like a seraph on the wings of charity, and gaze with the piercing eyes of her spirit upon the glory of the King of kings.”

Some Scriptures about the Holy Face

‘My heart hath said to thee: My face hath sought thee: thy face, O Lord, will I still seek.’ (Ps. 27:8)

‘The Lord turn his countenance to thee, and give thee peace.’ (Num. 6:26)

‘I have seen God face to face, and my soul has been saved.’ (Gen. 32:30) [We can pray this at every Mass during the Elevation of the Sacred Host]

‘Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: and teach me thy justifications.’ (Ps. 119:135)

‘For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus.’  (2 Cor. 4:6)

The Delight of St. Gertrude

“When Thou didst display Thy most adorable Face, the source of all blessedness, as I have said, embracing me, unworthy, a light of inestimable sweetness passed through Thy Deified eyes into mine, passing through my inmost being, operating in all my members with admirable power and sweetness: first, it appeared as if the marrow were taken from my bones; then, my flesh and bones appeared annihilated; so much so, that it seemed as if my substance no longer had any consciousness save of that Divine splendour, which shone in so inexplicable and delightful a manner that it was the source of the most inestimable pleasure and joy to my soul.”

————

Sources: ‘The life and revelations of Saint Gertrude, virgin and abbess, of the Order of St. Benedict,’ ‘The Love of the Sacred Heart (St. Mechtilde),’ ‘Vademecum Proposed to Religious Souls (Sr. Benigna Consolata),’ ‘Devotion to the Holy Face’ (TAN Books), ‘The Golden Arrow’ (TAN Books).

For an excellent read:

http://www.mysticsofthechurch.com/2011/10/maria-pierina-de-micheli-holy-face-of.html

————

“Those who by words, prayers or writings defend My cause in the Work of Reparation, especially My priests, I will defend before My Father, and will give them My Kingdom.

– Jesus to Sr. Mary of St. Peter

 

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

 

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)

 

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

15 Reasons To Suffer With LOVE.

“Embrace the cross lovingly, whenever it comes, as the most precious token of love I can give you in this life.”
– Jesus to St. Margaret Mary

If we were more humble, we would never complain of suffering (except in the sense in which Our Lord complained in the Garden of Gethsemane). “Let us believe that these scourges of the Lord have happened for our amendment and not for our destruction.” Furthermore, let us consider that God also uses our sufferings – if only we bear them with love – to bring down an abundance of graces for others!

Suffering is a small price to pay considering that one serious sin merits eternal suffering. “They do not consider,” said Our Lady to St. Bridget of Sweden, “that the least little sin a man finds delight in is enough to damn him to an eternal torment [if he does not repent].” (We must not forget that Hell is only for those who die in unrepented mortal sin.) This consideration is mentioned so that we may humbly thank God in particular for the priceless grace of repentance, and for the grace of knowing the value – at least to a greater degree than many others – of suffering. God desires that we be happy with Him both here and hereafter. The cross is the means by which God purifies souls and leads them to Himself.

It is a great act of charity to console the suffering. Perhaps the following words will be of profit to someone you know who is suffering:

1. “When suffering is accepted with love, it is no longer suffering, but it is changed into joy.” – St. Therese

2. “… when suffering is joined to love, the proofs of love given through suffering are a true reparation [i.e. for sin] offered to God.” – Jesus to Sr. Mary of the Trinity

3. “Whenever a soul receives with faith and love any occasion of suffering, it is as if she received Me in her arms when taken down from the Cross.” – Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata

4. “Be not afflicted if I begin to abandon thee. Do not think it chastisement. It is truly My own Will in order to detach thee from
creatures and unite thee to Myself.” – Jesus to St. Gemma Galgani

5. “No sin of yours will come under my judgment if it has been expiated in this life through your penance.” – Jesus to St. Bridget

6. “The best penance is to have patience with the sorrows God permits.” – St. Peter Damian

7. “The Cross is the way to Paradise, but only when it is borne willingly.” – St. Paul of the Cross

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

9.  “Affliction is always accompanied by Grace; Grace is proportionate to Suffering. The measure of My gifts is increased with the measure of trials.” – Jesus to St. Rose of Lima

10. ”O My daughter, how many would have abandoned Me if they had not been crucified.” – Jesus to St. Gemma Galgani

11. “Let us tell ourselves that every day, every hour, every instant of suffering borne with Jesus and for love of Him will be a new heaven [reward in Heaven] for all eternity, and a new glory given God for ever.” – Bl. Dom Columba Marmion

12. “My child, you canst do nothing more gratifying to Me than to submit patiently to all the tribulations that befall you.” – Jesus to St. Gertrude

13. “The cross is a gift too precious, and from it come many virtues.” – Jesus to St. Gemma Galgani

14. “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad because these trials will make you partners with Christ in his suffering, and afterward you will have the wonderful joy of sharing his glory when it is displayed to all the world.” – 1 Peter 4:12-13

15. “O what inspiration there is in the Crucifix! … God … never commands us to do anything which he has not first practiced Himself…” – St. John Vianney

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… should I then have deserved to go to hell in punishment of my sins, I entreat you, O my Lord to pardon me, and to be pleased to lead me to enjoy you eternally in heaven.”

– Venerable Fabrizio Dall’ Aste