Living the Love of Jesus Christ by Saint Ignatius
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CHAPTER I

CHARITY IS PATIENT

(1 Cor 13:4)

He that loves Jesus Christ loves sufferings.

THIS earth is the place for meriting, and therefore it is a place for suffering. Our true country, where God has prepared for us repose in everlasting joy, is Paradise. We have but a short time to stay in this world; but in this short time we have many labors to undergo: Man born of a woman, living for a short time, is filled with many miseries. 1 We must suffer, and all must suffer; be they just, or be they sinners, each one must carry his cross. He that carries it with patience is saved; he that carries it with impatience is lost. St. Augustine says, the same miseries send some to Paradise and some to Hell: "One and the same blow lifts the good to glory, and reduces the bad to ashes." 2 The same Saint observes, that by the test of suffering the chaff in the Church of God is distinguished from the wheat: he that humbles himself under tribulation, and is resigned to the will of God, is wheat for Paradise; he that grows haughty and is enraged, and so forsakes God, is chaff for Hell.

On the day when the cause of our salvation shall be decided, our life must be found conformable to the life of Jesus Christ, if we would enjoy the happy sentence of the predestined: For whom He foreknew He also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of His Son. 3 This was the end for which the Eternal Word descended upon earth, to teach us, by His example, to carry with patience the cross which God sends us: Christ suffered for us (wrote St. Peter), leaving you an example, that you should follow His steps. 4 So that Jesus Christ suffered on purpose to encourage us to suffer. O God! what a life was that of Jesus Christ! A life of ignominy and pain. The Prophet calls our Redeemer despised, and the most abject of men, a titan of sorrows. 5 A man held in contempt, and treated as the lowest, the vilest among men, a man of sorrows; yes, for the life of Jesus Christ was made up of hardships and afflictions.

Now, in the same manner as God has treated His beloved Son, so does He treat everyone whom He loves, and whom He receives for His Son: For whom the Lord loveth He chastiseth . . . and He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. 6 For this reason He one day said to St. Teresa: "Know that the souls dearest to My Father are those who are afflicted with the greatest sufferings." 7 Hence the Saint said of all her troubles, that she would not exchange them for all the treasures in the world. She appeared after her death to a soul, and revealed to her that she enjoyed an immense reward in Heaven, not so much for her good works, as for the sufferings which she cheerfully bore in this life for the love of God; and that if she could possibly entertain a wish to return upon earth, the only reason would be in order that she might suffer more for God.

He that loves God in suffering earns a double reward in Paradise. St. Vincent of Paul 8 said that it was a great misfortune to be free from suffering in this life. And he added, that a congregation or an individual that does not suffer, and is applauded by all the world, is not far from a fall. It was on this account that St. Francis of Assisi, on the day that he had suffered nothing for God, became afraid lest God had forgotten him. St. John Chrysostom 9 says, that when God endows a man with the grace of suffering, He gives him a greater grace than that of raising the dead to life; because in performing miracles man remains God's debtor; whereas in suffering. God makes Himself the debtor of man. And he adds, 10 that whoever endures something for God, even had he no other gift than the strength to suffer for the God Whom he loves, this would procure for him an immense reward. Wherefore he affirmed, that he considered St. Paul to have received a greater grace in being bound in chains for Jesus Christ, than in being rapt to the third heaven in ecstasy.

But patience has a perfect work. 11 The meaning of this is, that nothing is more pleasing to God than to see a soul suffering with patience all the crosses sent her by him. The effect of love is to liken the lover to the person loved. St. Francis de Sales said, "All the wounds of Christ are so many mouths, which preach to us that we must suffer for Him. The science of the Saints is to suffer constantly for Jesus; and in this way we shall soon become Saints." A person that loves Jesus Christ is anxious to be treated like Jesus Christ,-----poor, persecuted, and despised. St. John beheld all the Saints clothed in white, and with palms in their hands: Clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands. 12 The palm is the symbol of Martyrs, and yet all the Saints did not suffer Martyrdom;-----why, then, do all the Saints bear palms in their hands? St. Gregory replies, that all the Saints have been Martyrs either of the sword or of patience; so that, he adds, "we can be martyrs without the sword, if we keep patience." 13

The merit of a soul that loves Jesus Christ consists in loving and in suffering. Hear what our Lord said to St. Teresa: "Think you, my child, that merit consists in enjoyment? No, it consists in suffering and in loving. Look at My life, wholly embittered with afflictions. Be assured, my child, that the more My Father loves any one, the more sufferings He sends him; they are the standard of his love. Look at My wounds; your torments will never reach so far. It is absurd to suppose that My Father favors with His friendship those who are strangers to suffering." 14 And for our consolation St. Teresa makes this remark: "God never sends a trial, but he forthwith rewards it with some favor." 15 One day Jesus Christ appeared to the Blessed Baptista Varani, 16 and told her of three special favors which he is wont to bestow on cherished souls: the first is, not to sin; the second, which is greater, to perform good works; the third, and the greatest of all, to suffer for His love. So that St. Teresa 17 used to say, whenever anyone does something for God, the Almighty repays him with some trial. And therefore the Saints, on receiving tribulations, thanked God for them. St. Louis of France, referring to his captivity in Turkey, said: "I rejoice, and thank God more for the patience which he accorded me in the time of my imprisonment, than if he had made me master of the universe." And when St. Elizabeth, princess of Thuringia, after her husband's death, was banished with-----her son from the kingdom, and found herself homeless and abandoned by all, she went to a convent of the Franciscans, and there had the Te Deum sung in thanksgiving to God for the signal favor of being allowed to suffer for his love. St. Joseph Calasanctius used to say, "All suffering is slight to gain Heaven." And the Apostle had already said the same: The sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us. 18

It would be a great gain for us to endure all the torments of all the Martyrs during our whole lives, in order to enjoy one single moment of the bliss of Paradise; with what readiness, then, should we embrace our crosses, when we know that the sufferings of this transitory life will gain for us an everlasting beatitude! That which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation, worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory. 19 St. Agapitus, while still a mere boy in years, was threatened by the tyrant to have his head covered with a red-hot helmet; on which he replied, "And what better fortune could possibly befall me, than to lose my head here, to have it crowned hereafter in Heaven?" This made St. Francis exclaim:

"I look for such a meed of bliss,
That all my pains seem happiness."

But whoever desires the crown of Paradise must needs combat and suffer: If we suffer, we shall also reign. 20 We cannot get a reward without merit; and no merit is to be had without patience: He is not crowned, except he strive lawfully. 21 And the person that strives with the greatest patience shall have the greatest reward. Wonderful indeed! When the temporal goods of this world are in question, worldlings endeavor to procure as much as they can; but when it is a question of the goods of eternal life, they say, "It is enough if we get a little corner in Heaven!" Such is not the language of the Saints: they are satisfied with anything whatever in this life, nay more, they strip themselves of all earthly goods; but concerning eternal goods, they strive to obtain them in as large a measure as possible. I would ask which of the two act with more wisdom and prudence?

But even with regard to the present life, it is certain that he who suffers with most patience enjoys the greatest peace. It was a saying of St. Philip Neri, 22 that in this world there is no Purgatory; it is either all Paradise or all Hell: he that patiently supports tribulations enjoys a Paradise; he that does not do so, suffers a Hell. Yes, for (as St. Teresa writes) he that embraces the crosses sent him by God feels them not. St. Francis de Sales, finding himself on one occasion beset on every side with tribulations, said, "For some time back the severe oppositions and secret contrarieties which have befallen me afford me so sweet a peace, that nothing can equal it; and they give me such an assurance that my soul will ere long be firmly united with God, that I can say with all truth that they are the sole ambition, the sole desire of my heart." 23

And indeed peace can never be found by one who leads an irregular life, but only by him who lives in union with God and with His blessed will, A certain missionary of a religious Order, while in the Indies, was one day standing to witness the execution of a person under sentence of death, and already on the scaffold: the criminal called the missionary to him, and said, "You must know, Father, that I was once a member of your Order; whilst I observed the rules I led a very happy life; but when, afterwards, I began to relax in the strict observance of them, I immediately experienced pain in everything; so much so, that I abandoned the religious life, and gave myself up to vice, which has finally reduced me to the melancholy pass in which you at present behold me." And in conclusion he said, "I tell you this, that my example may be a warning to others." The Venerable Father Louis da Ponte said, "Take the sweet things of this life for bitter, and the bitter for sweet; and so you will be in the constant enjoyment of peace. Yes, for though the sweet are pleasant to sense, they invariably leave behind them the bitterness of remorse of conscience, on account of the imperfect satisfaction which, for the most part, they afford; but the bitter, when taken with patience from the hand of God, become sweet, and dear to the souls who love Him."

Let us be convinced that in this valley of tears true peace of heart cannot be found, except by him who endures and lovingly embraces sufferings to please Almighty God: this is the consequence of that corruption in which all are placed through the infection of sin. The condition of the Saints on earth is to suffer and to love; the condition of the Saints in Heaven is to enjoy and to love. Father Paul Segneri the younger, in a letter which he wrote one of his penitents to encourage her to suffer, gave her the counsel to keep these words inscribed at the foot of her crucifix: "'Tis thus one loves." It is not simply by suffering, but by desiring to suffer for the love of Jesus Christ, that a soul gives the surest signs of really loving Him. And what greater acquisition (said St. Teresa) can we possibly make than to have some token of gratifying Almighty God? 24 Alas, how ready are the greatest part of men to take alarm at the bare mention of crosses, of humiliations, and of afflictions! Nevertheless, there are many souls who find all their delight in suffering, and who would be quite disconsolate did they pass their time on this earth without suffering. The sight of Jesus crucified (said a devout person) renders the cross so lovely to me, that it seems to me I could never be happy without suffering; the love of Jesus Christ is sufficient for me for all. Listen how Jesus advises every one who would follow Him to take up and carry his cross: Let him take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 But we must take it up and carry it, not by constraint and against our will, but with humility, patience, and love.

Oh, how acceptable to God is he that humbly and patiently embraces the crosses which he sends him! St. Ignatius of Loyola said, "There is no wood so apt to enkindle and maintain love towards God as the wood of the cross;" that is, to love Him in the midst of sufferings. One day St. Gertrude asked our Lord what she could offer Him most acceptable, and He replied, "My child, thou canst do nothing more gratifying to Me than to submit patiently to all the tribulations that befall thee." Wherefore the great servant of God, Sister Victoria Angelini, affirmed that one day of crucifixion was worth a hundred years of all other spiritual exercises. And the Venerable Father John of Avila said, "One 'blessed be God' in contrarieties is worth more than a thousand thanksgivings in prosperity." Alas, how little men know of the inestimable value of afflictions endured for God!

The Blessed Angela of Foligno said, "that if we knew the just value of suffering for God, it would become an object of plunder;" which is as much as to say, that each one would seek an opportunity of robbing his neighbor of the occasions of suffering. For this reason St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi, well aware as she was of the merit of sufferings, sighed to have her life prolonged rather than to die and go to Heaven, "because," said she, "in Heaven one can suffer no more."

A soul that loves God has no other end in view but to be wholly united with Him; but let us learn from St. Catherine of Genoa what is necessary to be done to arrive at this perfect union: "To attain union with God, adversities are indispensable; because by them God aims at destroying all our corrupt propensities within and without. And hence all injuries, contempts, infirmities, abandonment of relatives and friends, confusions, temptations, and other mortifications, all are in the highest degree necessary for us, in order that we may carry on the fight, until by repeated victories we come to extinguish within us all vicious movements, so that they are no longer felt; and we shall never arrive at Divine union until adversities, instead of seeming bitter to us, become all sweet for God's sake."

It follows, then, that a soul that sincerely desires to belong to God must be resolved, as St. John of the Cross 26 writes, not to seek enjoyments in this life, but to suffer in all things; she must embrace with eagerness all voluntary mortifications, and with still greater eagerness those which are involuntary, since they are the more welcome to Almighty God.

The patient man is better than the valiant. 27 God is pleased with a person who practices mortification by fasting, hair-cloths, and disciplines, on account of the courage displayed in such mortifications; but he is much more pleased with those who have the courage to bear patiently and gladly such crosses as come from His Own Divine hand. St. Francis de Sales said, "Such mortifications as come to us from the hand of God, or from men by His permission, are always more precious than those which are the offspring of our own will; for it is a general rule, that wherever there is less of our own choice, God is better pleased, and we ourselves derive greater profit." 28 St. Teresa taught the same thing: "We gain more in one day by the oppositions which come to us from God or our neighbor than by ten years of mortifications of self-infliction." 29 Wherefore St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi made the generous declaration, that there could not be found in the whole world an affliction so severe, but what she would gladly bear with the thought that it came from God; and, in fact, during the five years of severe trial which the Saint underwent, it was enough to restore peace to her soul to remember that it was by the will of God that she so suffered. Ah, God, that infinite treasure is cheaply purchased at any cost! Father Hippolytus Durazzo used to say, "Purchase God at what cost you will, He can never be dear." Let us then beseech God to make us worthy of His love; for if we did but once perfectly love Him, all the goods of this earth would seem to us but as smoke and dirt, and we should relish ignominies and afflictions as delights. Let us hear what St. John Chrysostom says of a soul wholly given up to Almighty God: "He who has attained the perfect love of God seems to be alone on the earth,-----he no longer cares either for glory or ignominy,-----he scorns temptations and afflictions,-----he loses all relish and appetite for created things. And as nothing in this world brings him any support or repose, he goes incessantly in search of his beloved without ever feeling wearied; so that when he toils, when he eats, when he is watching, or when sleeping, in every action and word, all his thoughts and desires are fixed upon finding his beloved; because his heart is where his treasure is." *

Affections and Prayers

My dear and beloved Jesus, my treasure, I have deserved by my offenses never more to be allowed to love Thee; but by Thy merits, I entreat Thee, make me worthy of Thy pure love. I love Thee above all things; and I repent with my whole heart of having ever despised Thee, and driven Thee from my soul; but now I love Thee more than myself; I love Thee with all my heart, O infinite good! I love Thee, I love Thee, I love Thee, and I have not a wish besides that of loving Thee perfectly; nor have I a fear besides that of ever seeing myself deprived of Thy love. O my most loving Redeemer, enable me to know how great a good Thou art, and how great is the love Thou hast borne me in order to oblige me to love Thee! Ah, my God, suffer me not to live any longer unmindful of so much goodness! Enough have I offended Thee. I will never leave Thee again; I wish to employ all the remainder of my days in loving Thee, and in pleasing Thee. My Jesus, my Love, lend me Thine aid; help a sinner who wishes to love Thee and to be wholly Thine own.

O Mary my hope, thy Son hears thee; pray to Him in my behalf, and obtain for me the grace of loving Him perfectly!

*In this chapter we have spoken of patience in general; in Chapter X we shall treat more particularly of occasions in which we have especially to practice patience.

1. Homo natus de muliere, brevi vivens tempore, repletur multis miseries. Job 14:1

2. Una eademque tunsio bonos producit ad gloriam, malos redigit in favillam. Serm. 52, E. B. app.

3. Nam quos passivity, et praedestinavit conformes fieri imagines Filii sui. Romans 8:29

4. Christius passus est prognosis, vobis relinquens exemplum, ut sequamini vestigial ejus. 1 Peter 2:21

5. Despectum et novissimum virorum. Isaiah 53:3

6. Quem enim diligit Dominus, castigat; flagellat autem omnem filium quem recipit. Hebrews 12:6

7. Life, addit.

8. Abelly, 1. 3. c. 43.

9. In Phil. homs. 4.

10. In Eph. hom. 8.

11. Patientia autem opus perfectum habet. James 1:4

12. Amicti stolis albis, et palmate in minibus eorum. Apoc 7:9

13. Nos sine ferro esse possumus martyres, si patientiam veracities in animo custodimus. In Evang. hom. 35

14. Life, addit. 15. Life, en. 30.

16. Boll. 31 Maii, Vit. c. 7.

17. Found. Ch. 31

18. Non sunt condignae Passiones hujus temporis ad futuram gloriam quae revelabitur in nobis. Romans 8:18

19. Momentaneum et leve tribulationis nostrae supra modum in sublimitate aeternum gloriae pondus operatur in nobis. 2 Cor 4:17

20. Si sustinebimus, et conregnabimus. 2 Timothy 2:12

21. Qui certat in agone, non coronatur, nisi legitime certaverit. 2 Timothy 2:5

22. Bacci, 1. 2, ch. 20

23. Spirit, ch. 19.

24. Life, ch. 10.

25. Tollat crucem suam quotidian, et sequatur me. Luke 9:23

26. Mont. du C. 1. 2, ch. 7

27. Melior est patiens viro forti. Proverbs 16:32

28. Spirit, ch. 4.

29. Way of Perfection. ch. 37.

St Alphonsus Liguori, Pray for us! Sancta Alphonsus Liguori, Ora Pro Nobis! Amen

CHAPTER II

CHARITY IS KIND

He that loves Jesus Christ loves Meekness.

The spirit of meekness is peculiar to God. My spirit is sweet about honey. 1 Hence it is that a soul that loves God loves also all those whom God loves, namely, her neighbors; so that she eagerly seeks every occasion of helping all, of consoling all, and of making all happy as far as she can. St. Francis de Sales, who was the master and model of holy meekness, says, "Humble meekness is the virtue of virtues, which God has so much recommended to us; therefore we should endeavor to practice it always and in all things." 2 Hence the Saint gives us this rule: "What you see can be done with love, do it; and what you see cannot be done without offense leave it undone." 3 He means, when it can be omitted without offending God; because an offense of God must always and as quickly as possible, be prevented by him who is bound to prevent it.

This meekness should be particularly observed towards the poor, who, by reason of their poverty, are often harshly treated by men. It should be likewise be especially practiced towards the sick, who are suffering under infirmities, and for the most part meet with small help from others. Meekness is more especially to be observed in our behavior towards our enemies: Overcome evil with good. 4 Hatred must be overcome by love, and persecution by meekness; thus the Saints acted, and so they conciliated the affections of their most exasperated enemies.

"There is nothing," says St. Francis de Sales, "that gives so much edification to our neighbor as meekness of behavior." 5 The Saint, therefore, was generally seen smiling, and with a countenance beaming with charity, which gave a tone to all his words and actions. This gave occasion to St. Vincent de Paul 6 to declare that he never knew a kinder man in his life. He said further, that it seemed to him that in his lordship of Sales was a true likeness of Jesus Christ. Even in refusing that he could not in conscience comply with, he did so with such sweetness, that all, though unsuccessful in their requests, went away satisfied and well-disposed towards him. He was gentle towards all, towards Superiors, towards equals and inferiors, at home and abroad; in contrast with some, who as the Saint used to say, "seemed angels abroad, but were devils at home." 7 Moreover, the Saint, in his conduct towards servants, never complain of their remissness; at most he would give them an admonition, but always in the gentlest terms. And this is a thing most praiseworthy in Superiors.

The Superior should always use kindness towards those under him. In telling them what they have to do, he should rather request than command. St. Vincent of Paul said: "A superior will never find a better means of being readily obeyed than meekness." And to the same effect was the saying of St. Jane Frances of Chantal: "I have tried various methods of governing, but I have not found any better than that of meekness and forbearance." 8

And more than this, the Superior should be kind even in the correction of faults. It is one thing to correct with firmness, and another with harshness; it is needful at times to correct with firmness, when the fault is serious, and especially if it be repeated after the subject has already been admonished of it; but let us always be on our guard against harsh and angry correction; he that corrects with anger does more harm than good. This that bitter zeal reproved by St. James. Some make a boast of keeping their family in order by severity, and they say it is the only successful method of treatment; but St. James speaks not so: �But if you have bitter zeal . . . glory not.� 9 If on some rare occasion it be necessary to speak a cross word, in order to bring the offender to a proper sense of his fault, yet in the end we ought invariably to leave him with a gentle countenance and a word of kindness. Wounds must be healed after the fashion of the good Samaritan in the Gospel with wine and oil: "But as oil," said St. Francis de Sales, "always swims on the surface of other liquors, so must meekness prevail over all our actions." And when it occurs that the person under correction is agitated, then the reprehension must be deferred till his anger has subsided, or else we should only increase his indignation. The Canon regular St. John said: "When the house is on fire, one must not cast wood into the flames."

�You know not of what spirit you are.� 10 Such were the words of Jesus Christ to His disciples James and John, when they would have brought down chastisements on the Samaritans for expelling them from their country, Ah, said the Lord to them, and what spirit is this? this is not my spirit, which is sweet and gentle; for I am come not to destroy but to save souls: �The Son of Man came not to destroy souls, but to save.� 11 And would you induce me to destroy them? Oh, hush! and never make the like request to Me, for such is not according to My spirit. And, in fact, with what meekness did Jesus Christ treat the adulteress! �Woman, said He, hath no man condemned thee? Neither will I condemn thee! Go, and now sin no more.� 12 He was satisfied with merely warning her not to sin again, and sent her away in peace. With what meekness, again, did He seek the conversion of the Samaritan woman, and so, in fact, converted her! He first asked her to give Him to drink; then He said to her: If thou didst know who He is that saith to thee, Give me to drink! And then He revealed to her that he was the expected Messiah. And, again, with what meekness did He strive to convert the impious Judas, admitting him to eat of the same dish with Him, washing his feet and admonishing him in the very act of his betrayal: Judas, and dost thou thus betray Me with a kiss? Judas, dost thou betray the Son of Man with a kiss? 13 And see how He converted Peter after his denial of Him! And the Lord turning, looked on Peter. 14 On leaving the house of the high-priest, without making him a single reproach, He cast on him a look of tenderness, and thus converted him; and so effectually did He convert him, that during his whole life long Peter never ceased to bewail the injury he had done to his Master.

Oh, how much more is to be gained by meekness than by harshness! St. Francis de Sales said there was nothing more bitter than the bitter almond, but if made into a preserve, it becomes sweet and agreeable: thus corrections, though in their nature very unpleasant, are rendered pleasant by love and meekness, and so are attended with more beneficial results. St. Vincent of Paul said of himself, that in the government of his own congregation he had never corrected anyone with severity, except on three occasions, when he supposed there was reason to do so, but that he regretted it ever afterwards, because he found it turned out badly; whereas he had always admirably succeeded by gentle correction. 15

St. Francis de Sales obtained from others whatever he wished by his meek behavior; and by this means he managed to gain the most hardened sinners to God. It was the same with St. Vincent of Paul, who taught his disciples this maxim: "Affability, love, and humility have a wonderful efficacy in winning the hearts of men, and in prevailing on them to undertake things most repugnant to nature." He once gave a great sinner to the care of one of his Fathers, to bring him to sentiments of true repentance; but that Father, in spite of all his endeavors, found his labor fruitless, so that he begged the Saint to speak a word to him. The Saint accordingly spoke with him, and converted him. That sinner subsequently declared that the singular sweetness of Father Vincent had worked upon his heart. Wherefore it was that the Saint could not bear his missionaries to treat sinners with severity; and he told them that the infernal spirit took advantage of the strictness of some to work the greater ruin of souls.

Kindness should be observed towards all on all occasions and at all times. St. Bernard remarks, 16 that certain persons are gentle as long as things fallout to their taste; but scarcely do they experience some opposition or contradiction than they are instantly on fire, like Mount Vesuvius itself. Such as these may be called burning coals, but hidden under the embers. Whoever would become a Saint, must, during this life, resemble the lily among thorns, which, however much it may be pricked by them, never ceases to be a lily; that is, it is always equally sweet and serene. The soul that loves God maintains an imperturbable peace of heart; and he shows this in her very countenance, being ever mistress of herself, alike in prosperity and adversity, according to the lines of Cardinal Petrucci:

"Of outward things he views the varying guise, While in his soul's most inmost depth Undimmed God's image lies."

Adversity brings out a person's real character. St. Francis de Sales very tenderly loved the Order of the Visitation, which had cost him so much labor. He saw it several times in imminent danger of dissolution on account of the persecutions it underwent; but the Saint never for a moment lost his peace, and was ready, if, such was the will of God, to see it entirely destroyed; and then it was that he said: "For some time back the trying oppositions and secret contrarieties which have befallen me afford me so sweet a peace, that nothing can equal it; arid they give me such an earnest of the immediate union of my soul with God, that, in truth, they form the sole desire of my heart." 17

Whenever it happens that we have to reply to some one who insults us, let us be careful to answer with meekness: A mild answer breaketh wrath. 18 A mild reply is enough to quench every spark of anger. And in case we feel irritated, it is best to keep silence, because then it seems only just to give vent to all that rises to our lips; but when our passion has subsided, we shall see that all our words were full of faults.

And when it happens that we ourselves commit some fault, we must also practice meekness in our own regard. To be exasperated at ourselves after a fault is not humility, but a subtle pride, as if we were anything else than the weak and miserable things that we are. St. Teresa said. "The humility that disturbs does not come from God, but from the devil." 19 To be angry at ourselves after the commission of a fault is a fault worse than the one committed, and will be the occasion of many other faults; it will make us leave off our devotions, prayers, and communions; or if we do practice them, they will be done very badly. St. Aloysius Gonzaga said that we cannot see in troubled waters, and that the devil fishes in them. A soul that is troubled knows little of God and of what it ought to do. Whenever, therefore, we fall into any fault, we should turn to God with humility and confidence, and craving His forgiveness, say to Him, with St. Catherine of Genoa: "0 Lord, this is the produce of my own garden! I love Thee with my whole heart, and I repent of the displeasure I have given Thee! I will never do the like again: grant me Thy assistance!"

Affections and Prayers

O blessed chains that bind the soul with God, oh, enfold me still closer, and in links so firm that I may never be able to loosen myself from the love of my God! My Jesus, I love Thee: O treasure, O life of my soul, to Thee I cling, and I give myself wholly unto Thee! No, indeed, my beloved Lord, I wish never more to cease to love Thee. Thou who, to atone for my sins, didst allow Thyself to be bound as a criminal, and so bound to be led to death through the streets of Jerusalem,-----Thou Who didst consent to be nailed to the Cross, and didst not leave it until life itself had left Thee, oh, suffer me never to be separated from Thee again; I regret above every other evil, to have at one time turned my back upon Thee, and henceforth I purpose by Thy grace to die rather than to give Thee the slightest displeasure. O my Jesus, I abandon myself to Thee. I love Thee with my whole heart; I love Thee more than myself. I have offended Thee in times past, but now I bitterly repent of it, and I would willingly die of grief. Oh, draw me entirely to Thyself! I renounce all sensible consolations; I wish for Thee alone, and nothing more. Make me love Thee, and then do with me what Thou wilt.

O Mary, my hope, bind me to Jesus; and grant me to live and die in union with Him, in order to come one day to the happy kingdom, where I shall have no more fear of ever being separated from His love!

1. Spiritus enim meus super mel dulcis. Ecclus. 24:27

2. Lettre 853.

3. Lettre 786.

4. Vince in bono malum. Romans 12:21

5. Lettre 605.

6. Abelly, 1. 3, ch. 27.

7. Introd., ch. 8.

8. Mem. de la M. de Chaugy, p. 3, ch. 19.

9. Quod si zelum amarum habetis nolite gloriari. James 3:14

10. Nescitis cujus spiritus estis. Luke 9:55

11. Filius hominis non venit animas perdere, sed salvare. Luke 10:56

12. Mulier, nemo te condemnavit? Nec ego te condemnabo. Vade, et jam amplius noli peccare. John 13:10,11

13. Juda! Osculo Filium hominis tradis? Luke 22:48

14. Conversus Dominus respexit Petrum. Luke 22:61

15. Abelly, 1. 3, ch. 27

16. In Adv. D. s. 4.

17. Spirit, ch. 10.

18. Responsio mollis frangit iram. Proverbs 15:1

19. Life, ch. 30.

St Alphonsus Liguori, Pray for us! Sancta
 Alphonsus Liguori, Ora Pro Nobis! Amen

CHAPTER III

CHARITY ENVIETH NOT

(The soul that loves Jesus Christ does not envy the Great Ones of this World, but only those who are Greater Lovers of Jesus Christ.)

ST. GREGORY explains this next characteristic of charity in saying, that as charity despises all earthly greatness, it cannot possibly provoke her envy. "She envieth not, because, as she desireth nothing in this world, she cannot envy earthly prosperity." 1

Hence we must distinguish two kinds of envy, one evil and the other holy. The evil kind is that which envies and repines at the worldly goods possessed by others on this earth. But holy envy, so far from wishing to be like, rather compassionates the great ones of the world, who live in the midst of honors and earthly pleasures. She seeks and desires God alone, and has no other aim besides that of loving Him as much as she can; and therefore she has a pious envy of those who love Him more than she does, for she would, if possible, surpass the very seraphim in loving Him.

This is the sole end which pious souls have in view on earth-----an end which so charms and ravishes the heart of God with love, that it causes Him to say: "Thou hast wounded My heart, My sister . . . My spouse, thou hast wounded My heart with one of thy eyes." 2 By "one of thy eyes" is meant that one end which the espoused soul has in all her devotions and thoughts, namely, to please Almighty God. Men of the world look on things with many eyes, that is, have several inordinate views in their actions; as, for instance, to please others, to become honored, to obtain riches, and if, nothing else, at least to please themselves; but the Saints have but a single eye, with which they keep in view, in all that they do, the sole pleasure of God; and with David they say: "What have I in Heaven, and besides Thee what do I desire upon earth?" 3 What do I wish, O my God, in this world or in the next, save Thee alone? Thou art my riches, Thou art the only Lord of my heart. "Let the rich," said St. Paulinus, "enjoy their riches, let the kings enjoy their kingdoms, Thou. O Christ, art my treasure and my kingdom!" 4

And here we must remark, that we must not only perform good works, but we must perform them well. In order that our works may be good and perfect, they must be done with the sole end of pleasing God. This was the admirable praise bestowed on Jesus Christ: He hath done all things well." 5 Many actions may in themselves be praiseworthy, but from being performed for some other purpose than for the glory of God, they are often of little or no value in His sight. St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi said, "God rewards our actions by the weight of pure intention." 6 As much as to say, that according as our intention is pure, so does the Lord accept of and reward our actions. But, O God, how difficult it is to find an action done solely for Thee! I remember a holy old man, a religious, who had labored much in the service of God, and died in the reputation of sanctity; now one day, as he cast a glance back at his past life, he said to me in a tone of sadness and fear, "Woe is me! when I consider all the actions of my past life, I do not find one done entirely for God." Oh, this accursed self-love, that makes us lose all or the greater part of the fruit of our good actions! How many in their most holy employments, as of preaching, hearing confessions, giving missions, labor and exert themselves very much, and gain little or nothing because they do not regard God alone, but worldly honor, or self-interest, or the vanity of making an appearance, or at least their own inclination!

Our Lord has said, "Take heed that you do not your justice before men, to be seen by them, otherwise you shall not have a reward of your Father Who is in Heaven." 7 He that works for his own gratification already receives his wages: "Amen I say to you, they have received their reward." 8 But a reward, indeed, which dwindles into a little smoke, or the pleasure of a day that quickly vanishes, and confers no benefit on the soul. The Prophet Aggeus says, that whoever labors for anything else than to please God, puts his reward in a sack full of holes, which, when he comes to open, he finds entirely empty: And he that hath earned wages, put them into a bag with holes. 9 And hence it is that such persons, in the event of their not gaining the object for which they entered on some undertaking, are thrown into great trouble. This is a sign that they had not in view the glory of God alone. He that undertakes a thing solely for the glory of God, is not troubled at all, though his undertaking may fail of success; for, in truth, by working with a pure intention, he has already gained his object, which was to please Almighty God.

The following are the signs which indicate whether we work solely for God in any spiritual undertaking.

1. If we are not disturbed at the failure of our plans, because when we see it is not God's will, neither is it any longer our will.
2. If we rejoice at the good done by others, as heartily as if we ourselves had done it.
3. If we have no preference for one charge more than for another, but willingly accept that which obedience to Superiors enjoins us.
4. If after our actions we do not seek the thanks or approbation of others, nor are in any way affected if we be found fault with or scolded, being satisfied with having pleased God. And if when the world applauds us we are not puffed up, but meet the vain glory, which might make itself felt, with the reply of the venerable John of Avila: " Get away, thou comest too late, for all has been already given to God."

This is to enter into the joy of the Lord; that is, to enjoy the enjoyment of God, as is promised to His faithful servants: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant; because thou hast been faithful over a few things, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." 10 And if it falls to our lot to do something pleasing to God, what more, asks St. John Chrysostom, can we desire? "If thou art found worthy to perform something that pleases God, dost thou seek other recompense than this?" 11 The greatest reward, the brightest fortune, that can befall a creature, is to give pleasure to his Creator.

And this is what Jesus Christ looks for from a soul that loves Him: "Put Me, He says, as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm." 12 He desires us to place Him as a seal on our heart and on our arm: on our heart, in order that whatever we intend doing, we may intend solely for the love of God; on our arm, in order that whatever we do, all may be done to please God; so that God may be always the sole end of all our thoughts and of all our actions. St. Teresa said, that he who would become a Saint must live free from every other desire than that of pleasing God; and her first daughter, the Venerable Beatrice of the Incarnation, said, "No sum whatever could repay the slightest thing done for God." 13 And with reason; for all things done to please God are acts of charity which unite us to God, and obtain for us everlasting rewards.

Purity of intention is called the heavenly alchemy by which iron is turned into gold; that is to say, the most trivial actions (such as to work, to take one's meals, to take recreation or repose), when done for God, become the gold of holy love. Wherefore St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi believes for certain that those who do all with a pure intention, go straight to Paradise, without passing through Purgatory. It is related (in the Spiritual Treasury) that it was the custom of a pious hermit, before setting about any work, to pause a little, and lift his eyes to Heaven; on being questioned why he did so, he replied, "I am taking my aim." By which he meant, that as the archer, before shooting his arrow, takes his aim, that he may not miss the mark, so before each action he made God his aim, in order that it might be sure of pleasing him. We should do the same; and even during the performance of our actions, it is very good for us from time to time to renew our good intention.

Those who have nothing else in view in their undertakings than the Divine will, enjoy that holy liberty of spirit which belongs to the children of God; and this enables them to embrace everything that pleases Jesus Christ, however revolting it may be to their own self-love or human respect. The love of Jesus Christ establishes His lovers in a state of total indifference; so that all is the same to them, be it sweet or bitter; they desire nothing for their own pleasure, but all for the pleasure of God. With the same feelings of peace, they address themselves to small and great works; to the pleasant and the unpleasant: it is enough for them if they please God.

Many, on the other hand, are willing to serve God, but it must be in such an employment, in such a place, with such companions, or under such circumstances, or else they either quit the work, or do it with an ill-will. Such persons have not freedom of spirit, but are slaves of self-love; and on that account gain very little merit by what they do; they lead a troubled life, because the yoke of Jesus Christ becomes a burden to them. The true lovers of Jesus Christ care only to do what pleases Him; and for the reason that it pleases Him, when He wills, and where He wills, and in the manner He wills: and whether He wishes to employ them in a state of life honored by the world, or in a life of obscurity and insignificance. This is what is meant by loving Jesus Christ with a pure love; and in this we ought to exercise ourselves, battling against the craving of our self-love, which would urge us to seek important and honorable functions, and such as suit our inclinations.

We must, moreover, be detached from all exercises, even spiritual ones, when the Lord wishes us to be occupied in other works of His good pleasure. One day, Father Alvarez, finding himself overwhelmed with business, was anxious to get rid of it, in order to go and pray, because it seemed to him that during that time he was not with God; but our Lord then said to him: "Though I do not keep thee with Me, let it suffice thee that I make use of thee." 14 This is a profitable lesson for those who are sometimes disturbed at being obliged, by obedience or by charity, to leave their accustomed devotions; let them be assured that such disturbances on like occasions do not come from God, but either from the devil or from self-love. "Give pleasure to God, and die." This is the grand maxim of the Saints.

Affections and Prayers

O my Eternal God, I offer Thee my whole heart; but what sort of heart, O God, is it that I offer Thee? A heart, created, indeed, to love Thee; but which, instead of loving Thee, has so many times rebelled against Thee. But behold, my Jesus, if there was a time when my heart rebelled against Thee, now it is deeply grieved and penitent for the displeasure it has given Thee. Yes, my dear Redeemer, I am sorry for having despised Thee; and I am determined to do all to obey Thee, and to love Thee at every cost. Oh, draw me wholly to Thy love; do this for the sake of the love which made Thee die for me on the Cross. I love Thee, my Jesus; I love Thee with all my soul; I love Thee more than myself, O true and only lover of my soul; for I find none but Thee Who hast sacrificed His life for me. I weep to think that I have been so ungrateful to Thee. Unhappy that I am! I was already lost; but I trust that by Thy grace Thou hast restored me to life. And this shall be my life, to love Thee always, my sovereign good. Make me love Thee, O infinite love, and I ask Thee for nothing more!

O Mary my mother, accept of me for thy servant, and gain acceptance for me with Jesus thy Son.

1. Non aemulatur;' quia. per hoc quod in praesenti mundo nihil appetit, invidere terrenis successibus nescit." Mor. 1. 10. c. 8.

2. "Vulnerasti cor meum, soror mea Sponsa, vulnerasti cor meum in uno oculorum tuorum." Cant. 4:9

3. "Quid enim mihi est in coelo? et a te quid volui super terram? ... Deus cordis mei, et pars mea. Deus, in aeternum." Psalms 72:25,26

4. Sibi habeant divitias suas divites, sibi regna sua reges; nobis gloria, et possessio, et regnum, Christus est." Ep. ad Aprum.

5. "Bene omnia fecit." Mark 7:37

6. Pucc. p. 1, ch. 58.

7. "Attendite ne justitiam vestram faciatis coram hominibus, ut videamini ab eis; alioquin mercedem non habebitis apud Patrem vestrum qui in coelis est." Matthew 6:1

8. "Amen, dico vobis, receperunt mercedem suam." Matthew 6:5

9. "Et qui mercedes congregavit, misit eas in sacculum pertusum." Agg. i. 6.

10. "Euge, serve bone et fidelis: quia super pauca fuisti fidelis, super multa te constituam; intra in gaudium Domini tui." Matthew 25:21

11. Si dignus fueris agere aliquid quod Deo placet, aliam, praeter id, mercedem requiris? De Compunct, 1. 2.

12. Pone me ut signaculum super cor tuum, ut signaculum super brachium tuum." Cant. 8:6

13. Found. ch. 12.

14. Life, ch. 2.

St Alphonsus Liguori, Pray for us! Sancta Alphonsus Liguori, Ora Pro Nobis! Amen
 

CHAPTER IV

CHARITY DEALETH NOT PERVERSELY

He that loves Jesus Christ avoids Lukewarmness, and seeks Perfection; the Means of which are: 1. Desire; 2. Resolution; 3. Mental Prayer; 4. Communion; 5. Prayer.

ST. GREGORY, in his explanation of these words, "dealeth not perversely," says that charity, giving herself up more and more to the love of God, ignores whatever is not right and holy. 1 The Apostle had already written to the same effect, when he calls charity a bond that unites the most perfect virtues together in the soul. Have charity, which is the band of perfection. 2 And whereas charity delights in perfection, she consequently abhors that lukewarmness with which some persons serve God, to the great risk of losing charity, Divine grace, their very soul, and their all.

I.

Lukewarmness.

It must be observed that there are two kinds of tepidity or lukewarmness: the one unavoidable, the other avoidable.

I.-----From the lukewarmness that is unavoidable, the Saints themselves are not exempt; and this comprises all the failings that are committed by us without full consent, but merely from our natural frailty. Such are, for example, distractions at prayers; interior disquietudes, useless words, vain curiosity, the wish to appear, tastes in eating and drinking, the movements of concupiscence not instantly repressed, and such like. We ought to avoid these defects as much as we possibly can; but, owing to the weakness of our nature, caused by the infection of sin, it is impossible to avoid them altogether. We ought, indeed, to detest them after committing them, because they are displeasing to God; but, as we remarked in the preceding chapter, we ought to beware of making them a subject of alarm or disquietude. St. Francis de Sales writes as follows: "All such thoughts as create disquietude are not from God, Who is the Prince of peace; but they proceed always from the devil, or from self-love, or from the good opinion which we have of ourselves." 3 Such thoughts, therefore, as disturb us must be straightway rejected, and made no account of.

It was said also by the same Saint, with regard to indeliberate faults, that as they were involuntarily committed, so are they cancelled involuntarily. An act of sorrow, an act of love, is sufficient to cancel them. The Venerable Sister Mary Crucified, a Benedictine nun, saw once a globe of fire, on which a number of straws were cast, and were all forthwith reduced to ashes. She was given to understand by this figure that one act of Divine love, made with fervor, destroys all the defects that we may have in our soul. The same effect is produced by the holy Communion; according to what we find in the Council of Trent, where the Eucharist is called "an antidote by which we are freed from daily faults." Thus the like faults, though they are indeed faults, 4 do not hinder perfection-----that is, our advancing toward perfection because in the present life no one attains perfection before he arrives at the Kingdom of the blessed.

II. The tepidity, then, that does hinder perfection is that tepidity which is avoidable when a person commits deliberate venial faults; because all these faults committed with open eyes can effectually be avoided by the Divine grace, even in the present life. Wherefore St. Teresa said: "May God deliver you from deliberate sin, however small it may be." 5 Such, for example, are willful untruths, little detractions, imprecations, expressions of anger, derisions of one's neighbor, cutting words, speeches of self-esteem, animosities nourished in the heart, inordinate attachments to persons of a different sex. "These are a sort of worm" (wrote the same Saint) "which is not detected before it has eaten into the virtues." 6 Hence, in another place, the Saint gave this admonition: "By means of small things the devil goes about making holes for great things to enter." 7

We should therefore tremble at such deliberate faults; since they cause God to close His hands from bestowing upon us His clearer lights and stronger helps, and they deprive us of spiritual sweetnesses; and the result of them is to make the soul perform all spiritual exercises with great weariness and pain; and so, in course of time, she begins to leave off prayer, Communions, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, and novenas; and, in fine, she will probably leave off all, as has not infrequently been the case with many unhappy souls.

This is the meaning of that threat which our Lord makes to the tepid: Thou art neither cold nor hot; I would thou wert cold or hot: but because thou art lukewarm . . . I will begin to vomit thee out of My mouth. 8 How wonderful! He says, I would thou wert cold! What! and is it better to be cold, that is, deprived of grace, than to be tepid?

Yes, in a certain sense it is better to be cold; because a person who is cold may more easily change his life, being stung by the reproaches of conscience; whereas a tepid person contracts the habit of slumbering on in his faults, without bestowing a thought, or taking any trouble to correct himself; and thus he makes his cure, as it were, desperate. St. Gregory says, " Tepidity which has cooled down from fervor, is a hopeless state." 9 The Ven. Father Louis da Ponte said that he had committed many defects in the course of his life; but that he never had made a truce with his faults. Some there are who shake hands with their faults, and from that springs their ruin; especially when the fault is accompanied with some passionate attachment of self-esteem, of ambition, of liking to be seen, of heaping up money, of resentment against a neighbor, or of inordinate affection for a person of different sex. In such cases there is great danger of those hairs, as it were, becoming chains, as St. Francis of Assisi said, which will drag down the soul to Hell. At all events, such a soul will never become a Saint, and will forfeit that beautiful crown, which God had prepared for her, had she faithfully corresponded to grace. The bird no sooner feels itself loosed from the snare than it immediately flies; the soul, as soon as she is loosed from earthly attachments, immediately flies to God; but while she is bound, though it be but by the slightest thread, it is enough to prevent her from flying to God. Oh, how many spiritual persons there are who do not become Saints, because they will not do themselves the violence to break away from certain little attachments!

All the evil arises from the little love they have for Jesus Christ. Those who are puffed up with self-esteem; those who frequently take to heart occurrences that fall out contrary to their wishes; who practice great indulgence towards themselves on account of their health; who keep their heart open to external objects, and the mind always distracted, with an eagerness to listen to, and to know, so many things that have nothing to do with the service of God, but merely serve to gratify private curiosity; who are ready to resent every little inattention from others, and consequently are often troubled, and grow remiss in prayer and recollection. One moment they are all devotion and joy, the next all impatience and melancholy, just as things happen, according to or against their humor; all such persons do not love Jesus Christ, or love Him very little, and cast discredit on true devotion.

But suppose anyone should find himself sunk in this unhappy state of tepidity, what has he to do? Certainly it is a hard thing for a soul grown lukewarm to resume her ancient fervor; but our Lord has said, that what man cannot do, God can very well do. The things that are impossible with man, are possible with God. 10 Whoever prays and employs the means is sure to accomplish his desire.

II.

Remedies against Lukewarmness.

The means to cast off tepidity, and to tread in the path of perfection, are five in number: 1. The desire of perfection; 2. The resolution to attain it; 3. Mental prayer; 4. Frequent Holy Communion; 5. Prayer.

1. Desire of Perfection.

The first means, then, is the desire of perfection. Pious desires are the wings which lift us up from earth; for, as St. Laurence Justinian says, desire "supplies strength, and renders pain more light:" 11 on the one hand it gives strength to walk towards perfection, and on the other hand it lightens the fatigue of the journey. He who has a real desire of perfection fails not to advance continually towards it; and so advancing, he must finally arrive at it, On the contrary, he who has not the desire of perfection will always go backwards, and always find himself more imperfect than before. St. Augustine says, that "not to go forward in the way of God is to go backward." 12 He that makes no efforts to advance will find himself carried backward by the current of his corrupt nature.

They, then, who say "God does not wish us all to be Saints" make a great mistake. Yes, for St. Paul says, This is the Will of God, your sanctification. [1 Thess. iv, 3.] God wishes all to be Saints, and each one according to his state of life: the religious as a religious; the secular as a secular; the priest as a priest; the married as married; the man of business as a man of business; the soldier as a soldier; and so of every other state of life.

Most beautiful, indeed, are the instructions which my great patroness St. Teresa gives on this subject. She says, in one place, "Let us enlarge our thoughts; for hence we shall derive immense good." Elsewhere she says: "We must beware of having poor desires; but rather put our confidence in God, in order that, by forcing ourselves continually onwards, we may by degrees arrive where, by the Divine grace, so many Saints have arrived." [Life, ch. 13.] And in confirmation of this she quoted her own experience, having known how courageous souls make considerable progress in a short period of time. "Because," said she, "the Lord takes as much delight in our desires, as if they were put into execution." In another place she says: "Almighty God does not confer extraordinary favors, except where His love has been earnestly sought after." [Way of Per. ch. 35.] Again, in another passage, she remarks: "God does not fail to repay every good desire even in this life, [Life, ch. 4.] for He is the friend of generous souls, provided only they do not trust in themselves." [Life, ch. 13.] This Saint herself was endowed with just such a spirit of generosity; so that she once even said to our Lord, that were she to behold others in Paradise enjoying Him more than herself, she should not care; but were she to behold anyone loving Him more than she should love Him, this she declared she knew not how she could endure. [Rib. 1. 4. c. 10.]

We must, therefore, have a great courage: The Lord is good to the soul that seeketh Him. [Lam. iii. 25.] God is surpassingly good and liberal towards a soul that heartily seeks Him. Neither can past sins prove a hindrance to our becoming Saints, if we only have the sincere desire to become so. St. Teresa remarks: "The devil strives to make us think it pride to entertain lofty desires, and to wish to imitate the Saints; but it is of great service to encourage ourselves with the desire of great things, because, although the soul has not all at once the necessary strength, yet she nevertheless makes a bold fight, and rapidly advances," [Life, ch. 13.]

The Apostle writes: To them that love God, all things work together unto good. [Rom. viii. 28.] And the gloss or ancient commentary adds "even sins;" even past sins Can contribute to our sanctification, inasmuch as the recollection of them keeps us more humble, and more grateful, when we witness the favors which God lavishes upon us, after all our outrages against Him. I am capable of nothing (the sinner should say), nor do I deserve anything; I deserve nothing but Hell; but I have to deal with a God of infinite bounty, Who has promised to listen to all that pray to Him. Now, as He has rescued me from a state of damnation, and wishes me to become holy, and now proffers me His help, I can certainly become a Saint, not by my own strength, but by the grace of my God, Who strengthens me: I can do all things in Him that strengtheneth me. [Phil. iv. 13] When, therefore, we have once good desires, we must take courage, and trusting in God, endeavor to put them in execution; but if afterwards we encounter any obstacle in our spiritual enterprises, let us repose quietly on the will of God. God's will must be preferred before every good desire of our own. St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi would sooner have remained void of all perfection than possess it without the will of God.

2. Resolution.

The second means of perfection is the resolution to belong wholly to God. Many are called to perfection; they are urged on towards it by grace, they conceive a desire of it; but because they never really resolve to acquire it, they live and die in the ill-odor of their tepid and imperfect, life. The desire of perfection is not enough, if it be not followed up by a stern resolve to attain it. How many souls feed themselves on desires alone, but never make withal one step in the way of God! It is of such desires that the wise man speaks when he says: Desires kill the slothful. [Prov. xxi. 25] The slothful man is ever desiring, but never resolves to take the means suitable to his state of life to become a Saint. He says: "Oh, if I were but in solitude, and not in this house! Oh, if I could but go and reside in another monastery, I would give myself entirely up to God!" And meanwhile he cannot support a certain companion; he cannot put up with a word of contradiction; he is dissipated about many useless cares; he commits a thousand faults of gluttony, of curiosity, and of pride; and yet he sighs out to the wind: "Oh, if I had but!" or "Oh, if I could but!" etc. Such desires do more harm than good; because some regale themselves upon them, and in the meantime go on leading a life of imperfection. It was a saying of St. Francis de Sales: "I do not approve of a person who, being engaged in some duty or vocation, stops to sigh for some other kind of life than is compatible with his actual position, or for other exercises unfitted for his present state; for it merely serves to dissipate his heart, and makes him languish in his necessary duties." [Introd. ch. 37.]

We must, therefore, desire perfection, and resolutely take the means towards it. St. Teresa says: "God only looks for one resolution on our part, and will afterwards do all the rest Himself: [Found. ch. 28.] the devil has no fear of irresolute souls." [Way of Perf. ch. 24.] For this reason mental prayer must be used, in order to take the means which lead to perfection. Some make much prayer, but never come to a practical conclusion. The same Saint said: "I would rather have a short prayer, which produces great fruits, than a prayer of many years, wherein a soul never gets further than resolving to do something worthy of Almighty God." [Life, ch. 39.] And elsewhere she says: "I have learned by experience that whoever, at the beginning, brings himself to the resolution of doing some great work, however difficult it may be, if he does so to please God, he has no reason to be afraid."

The first resolution must be to make every effort, and to die rather than commit any deliberate sin whatever, however small it may be. It is true that all our endeavors, without the Divine assistance, cannot enable us to vanquish temptations; but God wishes us on our part frequently to use this violence with ourselves, because then he will afterwards supply us with his grace, will succor our weakness, and enable us to gain the victory. This resolution removes from us every obstacle to our going forward, and at the same time gives us great courage, because it affords us an assurance of being in the grace of God. St. Francis de Sales writes: "The best security we can possess in this world of being in the grace of God, consists not indeed in feeling that we have His love, but in a pure and irrevocable abandonment of our entire being into His hands, and in the firm resolution of never consenting to any sin, either great or small." [Spirit, ch. 9.] This is what is meant by being of a delicate conscience. Be it observed, that it is one thing to be of a delicate conscience, and another to be of a scrupulous conscience. To be of a delicate conscience is requisite to become a Saint; but to be scrupulous is a defect, and does harm; and on this account we must obey our directors, and rise above scruples, which are nothing else but vain and unreasonable alarms.

Hence it is necessary to resolve on choosing the best, not only what is agreeable to God, but what is most agreeable to Him, without any reserve. St. Francis de Sales says: "We must start with a strong and constant resolution to give ourselves wholly to God, and protest to Him that for the future we wish to be His without any reserve, and then we must afterwards often renew this same resolution." [Love of God, B. 12. ch, 8.] St. Andrew Avellini made a vow to advance daily in perfection. It is not necessary for everyone who wishes to become a Saint to make it the matter of a vow; but he must endeavor every day to make some steps forward in perfection. St. Laurence Justinian has written: "When a person is really making way, he feels in himself a continual desire of advancing; and the more he improves in perfection, the more this desire increases; because as his interior light increases each day more and more, he seems to himself always to be wanting in every virtue, and to be doing no good at all; and if, per chance, he is aware of some good he does, it always appears to him very imperfect, and he makes small account of it. The consequence is, he is continually laboring to acquire perfection without ever feeling wearied."

And we must begin quickly, and not wait for the morrow. Who knows whether we shall afterwards find time or not! Ecclesiastes counsels us: Whatsoever thy hand is able to do, do it earnestly. [Eccles. ix 10.] What thou canst do, do it quickly, and defer it not; and he adduces the reason why: For neither work, nor reason, nor wisdom, nor knowledge shall be in Hell, whither thou art hastening. [Ibid.] Because in the next life there is no more time to work, nor free will to merit, nor prudence to do well, nor wisdom or experience to take good counsel by, for after death what is done is done.

A nun of the convent of Torre de Specchi in Rome, whose name was Sister Bonaventura, led a very lukewarm sort of life There came a religious, Father Lancicius, to give the spiritual exercises to the nuns, and Sister Bonaventura, feeling no inclination to shake off her tepidity, began to listen to the exercises with no good will. But at the very first sermon she was won by Divine grace, so that she immediately went to the feet of the Father who preached, and said to him, with a tone of real determination, "Father, I wish to become a Saint, and quickly a Saint." And by the assistance of God, she did so; for she lived only eight months after that event, and during that short time she lived and died a Saint.

David said: And I said, now have I begun. [Ps. lxxvi. 11.] So likewise exclaimed St. Charles Borromeo: "Today I begin to serve God." And we should act in the same way as if we had hitherto done no good whatever; for, indeed, all that we do for God is nothing, since we are bound to do it. Let us therefore each day resolve to begin afresh to belong wholly to God. Neither let us stop to observe what or how others do. They who become truly Saints are few. St. Bernard says: "One cannot be perfect without being singular." If we would imitate the common run of men, we should always remain imperfect, as for the most part they are. We must overcome all, renounce all, in order to gain. all. St. Teresa said: "Because we do not come to the conclusion cf giving all our affection to God, so neither does He give all His love to us." [Life, ch. 11.] Oh, God, how little is all that is given to Jesus Christ, Who has given His Blood and His life for us! "However much we give," says the same Saint, "is but dirt, in comparison of one single drop of blood shed for us by our Blessed Lord." [Ibid. ch. 39.] The Saints know not how to spare themselves, when there is a question of pleasing a God Who gave Himself wholly, without reserve, on purpose to oblige us to deny Him nothing.

St. John Chrysostom wrote: "He gave all to thee, and kept nothing for Himself." God has bestowed His entire Self upon thee; there is, then, no excuse for thee to behave reservedly with God. He has even died for us all, says the Apostle, in order that each one of us may live only for Him Who dies for us: Christ died for all; that they also who live may not now live to themselves, but unto Him who died for them. [2 Cor. v. 15.]

3. Mental Prayer.

The third means of becoming a Saint is mental prayer. John Gerson writes: "That he who does not meditate on the eternal truths cannot, without a miracle, lead the life of a Christian. The reason is, because without mental prayer light fails us, and we walk in the dark. The truths of faith are not seen by the eyes of the body, but by the eyes of the mind, when we meditate; he that fails to meditate on them, fails to see them, and therefore walks in the dark; and being in the dark, he easily grows attached to sensible things, for the sake of which he then comes to despise the eternal." [De Med. cons. 7.] St. Teresa wrote as follows to the Bishop of Osma: "Although we seem to discover in ourselves no imperfections, yet, when God opens the eyes of the soul, which He is wont to do in prayer, then they plainly appear." [Lettre 8.] And St. Bernard had before said, that he who does not meditate "does not abhor himself, merely because he does not know himself." [De Cons. l. 1, c. 2.] "Prayer," says the Saint, "regulates the affections, directs the actions," [Ibid. c. 7] keeps the affections of the soul in order, and directs all our actions to God; but without prayer the affections become attached to the earth, the actions conform themselves to the affections, and in this manner all runs into disorder.

We read of an awful example of this in the life of the Venerable Sister Mary Crucified of Sicily. Whilst this servant of God was praying, she heard a devil making a boast that he had succeeded in withdrawing a religious from the community-prayer; and she saw in spirit, that after this omission the devil tempted her to consent to a grievous sin, and that she was on the point of yielding. She forthwith accosted her, and by a timely admonition prevented her from falling. Abbe Diocles said; that whoever leaves off prayer "very shortly becomes either a beast or a devil." [Pall. Hist. laus. c. 98.]

He therefore that leaves off prayer will leave off loving Jesus Christ. Prayer is the blessed furnace in which the fire of holy love is enkindled and kept alive: And in my meditation a fire shall flame out. [Ps. xxxviii. 4.] It was said by St. Catherine of Bologna: "The person that foregoes the practice of prayer cuts that string which binds the soul to God." It follows that the devil, finding the soul cold in Divine love, will have little difficulty in inducing her to partake of some poisonous fruit or other. St. Teresa said, on the contrary, "Whosoever perseveres in prayer, let him hold for a certainty, that with however many sins the devil may surround him, the Lord will eventually bring him into the haven of salvation." [Life, ch. 8.] In another place she says, "Whoever halts not in the way of prayer arrives sooner or later." [Ibid. ch. 19.] And elsewhere she writes, "that it is on this account that the devil labors so hard to withdraw souls from prayer, because he well knows that he has missed gaining those who faithfully persevere in prayer." Oh, how great are the benefits that flow from prayer! In prayer we conceive holy thoughts, we practice devout affections, we excite great desires, and form efficacious resolutions to give ourselves wholly to God; and thus the soul is led for his sake to sacrifice earthly pleasures and all disorderly appetites. It was said by St. Aloysius Gonzaga: "There will never be much perfection without much prayer." Let him who longs for perfection mark well this notable saying of the Saint.

We should not go to prayer in order to taste the sweetness of Divine love; whoever prays from such a motive will lose his time, or at least derive little advantage from it. A person should begin to pray solely to please God, that is, solely to learn what the will of God is in his regard, and to beg of Him the help to put it in practice. The Venerable Father Antony Torres said: "To carry the cross without consolation makes souls fly to perfection. Prayer unattended with sensible consolations confers greater fruit on the soul. But pitiable is the poor soul that leaves off prayer, because she finds no relish in it." St. Teresa said: "When a soul leaves off prayer, it is as if she cast herself into Hell without any need of devils." [Life, ch. 19.]

It results, too, from the practice of prayer, that a person constantly thinks of God. "The true lover" (says St. Teresa) "is ever mindful of the beloved one. And hence it follows that persons of prayer are always speaking or God, knowing, as they do, how pleasing it is to God that His lovers should delight in conversing about Him, and on the love He bears them, and that thus they should endeavor to enkindle it in others." [Found. ch. 5.] The same Saint wrote: "Jesus Christ is always found present at the conversations of the servants of God, and He is very much gratified to be the subject of their delight." [Life, ch. 34.]

Prayer, again, creates that desire of retiring into solitude in order to converse alone with God, and to maintain interior recollection in the discharge of necessary external duties; I say necessary, such as the management of one's family, or of the performance of duties required of us by obedience; because a person of prayer must love solitude, and avoid dissipation in superfluous and useless affairs, otherwise he will lose the spirit of recollection, which is a great means of preserving union with God: My sister, my spouse is a garden enclosed. [Cant. iv. 12.] The soul espoused to Jesus Christ must be a garden closed against all creatures, and must not admit into her heart other thoughts, nor other business, but those of God or for God. Hearts thrown open never become Saints. The Saints, who have to labor in gaining souls to God, do not lose their recollection in the midst of all their labors, either of preaching, confessing, reconciling enemies, or assisting the sick. The same rule holds good with those who have to apply to study. How many from excessive study, and a desire to become learned, become neither holy nor learned, because true learning consists in the science of the Saints; that is to say, in knowing how to love Jesus Christ; whereas, on the contrary, Divine love brings with it knowledge and every good: All good things came to me together with her, [Wisd. vii. 11.] that is, with holy charity. Saint John Berchmans had an extraordinary love for study, but by his great virtue he never allowed study to interfere with his spiritual interests. The Apostle exhorts us: Not to be more Wise than it behooveth to be wise, but to be wise unto sobriety. [Rom. xii. 3.] A priest especially must have knowledge; he must know things, because he has to instruct others in the Divine law: For the lips of the priest shall keep knowledge, and they shall seek the law at his mouth. [Mal. ii. 7.] He must have knowledge, but unto sobriety. He that leaves prayer for study shows that in his study he seeks himself, and not God. He that seeks God leaves study (if it be not absolutely necessary), in order not to omit prayer.

Besides, the greatest evil is, that without mental prayer we do not pray at all. I have spoken frequently in my spiritual works of the necessity of prayer, and more especially in a little volume entitled, On Prayer, the great Means, etc.; and in the present chapter also I will briefly say a few other things. It will be sufficient then to quote here the opinion of the Venerable Palafox, Bishop of Osma, in his remarks on the letters of St. Teresa: "How can charity last, unless God grant us perseverance? How will the Lord grant us perseverance unless we ask it of Him? And how shall we ask it of Him except by prayer? Without prayer there is no communication with God for the preservation of virtue." [Lettre 8.] And so it is, because he that neglects mental prayer sees very little into the wants of his soul, he knows little of the dangers of his salvation, of the means to be used in order to overcome temptations; and so, understanding little of the necessity of prayer, he leaves off praying, and will certainly be lost.

Then as regards subjects for meditation, nothing is more useful than to meditate on the Four Last Things-----death, judgment, Hell, and Heaven; but it is of especial advantage to meditate on death, and to imagine ourselves expiring on the bed of sickness, with the crucifix in our hands, and on the point of entering into eternity. But above all, to one that loves Jesus Christ, and is anxious always to increase in His love, no consideration is more efficacious than that of the Passion of the Redeemer. St. Francis de Sales calls "Mount Calvary the mountain of lovers." All the lovers of Jesus Christ love to abide on this mountain, where no air is breathed but the air of Divine love. When we see a God dying for our love, and dying in order to gain our love (He loved us, and delivered Himself up for us). [Eph. v. 2.] it is impossible not to love Him ardently. Such darts of love continually issue forth from the wounds of Christ crucified as pierce even hearts of stone. Oh, happy is he who is ever going during this life to the heights of Calvary! O blessed Mount! O lovely Mount! O beloved Mount! and who shall ever leave thee more! A Mount that sends forth flames to enkindle the souls that perseveringly abide upon thee!

4. Frequent Communion.

The fourth means of perfection, and even of perseverance in the grace of God, is frequently to receive the Holy Communion, of which we have already spoken in the Introduction, II., page 275 [not part of this presentation-----Web Master], where we affirmed that a soul can do nothing more pleasing to Jesus Christ than to receive Him often in the Sacrament of the Altar. St. Teresa said: "There is no better help to perfection than frequent Communion: oh, how admirably does the Lord bring such a soul to perfection!" And she adds, that, ordinarily speaking, they who communicate most frequently are found further advanced in perfection; and that there is greater spirituality in those communities where frequent Communion is the custom. For this reason it is that, as we find declared in a decree of Pius X, in 1905, the holy Fathers have so highly extolled, and so much promoted, the practice of frequent and even of daily Communion. Holy Communion, as the Council of Trent tells us, delivers us from daily faults, and preserves us from mortal ones. St. Bernard [In C'na D.s.l.] asserts that Communion represses the movements of anger and incontinence, which are the two passions that most frequently and most violently assail us. St. Thomas says, [P. 3. q. 79. a. 6.] that Communion defeats the suggestions of the devil. And finally, St. John Chrysostom says, that Communion pours into our souls a great inclination to virtue, and a promptitude to practice it; and at the same time imparts to us a great peace, by which the path of perfection is made very sweet and easy to us. Besides, there is no Sacrament so capable of kindling the Divine love in souls as the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, in which Jesus Christ bestows on us His whole self, in order to unite us all to Himself by means of holy love. Wherefore the Venerable Father John of Avila said: "Whoever deters souls from frequent Communion does the work of the devil." Yes; for the devil has a great horror of this Sacrament, from which souls derive immense strength to advance in Divine love.

*But a suitable preparation is most useful to communicate well. The first preparation, or, in other terms, the remote preparation, to derive the greatest profit from frequent and daily Communion, is: 1. To keep free from all deliberate affection to sin-----that is, to sin committed, as we say, with open eyes. 2. The practice of much mental prayer. 3. The mortification of the senses and of the passions. 4. Although it is most expedient that those who communicate frequently or daily should be free from venial sins, at least from such as are fully deliberate, and from any affection thereto, nevertheless it is sufficient that they be free from mortal sin, with the purpose of never sinning mortally in future; and, if they have this sincere purpose, it is impossible but that daily communicants should gradually emancipate themselves from even venial sins, and from all affection thereto. 5. That the practice of frequent and daily Communion may be carried out with greater prudence and more abundant merit, the confessor's advice should be asked. Confessors, however, are to be careful not to dissuade anyone from frequent and daily Communion, provided that he is in a state of grace and approaches with a right intention." [Decree of Pius X.] In the next place, the proximate preparation for Communion is that which is made on the morning itself of Communion, for which it is recommended to make at least half an hour of mental prayer.

To reap also more abundant fruit from Communion, we should make a fervent thanksgiving. Father John of Avila said that the time after Communion is "a time to gain treasures of graces." St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi used to say that no time can be more calculated to inflame us with Divine love than the time immediately after our Communion. And St. Teresa says: "After Communion let us be careful not to lose so good an opportunity of negotiating with God. His Divine majesty is not accustomed to pay badly for His lodging, if He meets with a good reception." [Way of Perfection, ch. 35.]

There are certain pusillanimous souls, who, on being exhorted to communicate more frequently, reply: "But I am not worthy." But, do you not know, that the more you refrain from Communion, the more unworthy you become of it? Because, deprived of Holy Communion, you will have less strength, and will commit many faults. Well, then, obey your director, when he tells you to go: venial faults do not forbid Holy Communion: besides, among your failings, the greatest would be not to obey when your spiritual Father bids you communicate.

"But in my past life I was very bad." And I reply, that you must know, that he who is weakest has most need of the physician and of medicine. Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is our physician and medicine as well. St. Ambrose said: "I, who am always sinning, have always need of medicine." [De Sacram. 1. 4, c. 6.] You will then say, perhaps: "But my confessor does not tell me to communicate oftener." If, then, he does not tell you to do so, ask his advice. "It would seem to be pride." It would be pride if you should wish to communicate because you consider yourself entirely worthy, or better than others. This heavenly bread requires hunger. Jesus loves to be desired, says a devout author: "He thirsts to be thirsted for." [Tetr. Sent. 37.] And what a thought is this: "Today I have communicated, and tomorrow I have to communicate." Oh, how such a reflection keeps the soul attentive to avoid all defects and to do the will of God! "But I have no devotion." If you mean sensible devotion, it is not necessary, neither does God always grant it even to His most beloved souls. It is enough for you to have the devotion of a will determined to belong wholly to God, and to make progress in His Divine love. John Gerson says, [Sup. Magn. tr. 9, p. 3.] that he who abstains from Communion because he does not feel that devotion which he would like to feel, acts like a man who does not approach the fire because he does not feel warm.

"But why do so few souls approach the Divine Banquet frequently or daily?

Some, unhappily, are prevented by mortal sin which separates them from Him Who 'is the life.' It is with good reason that they recognize themselves unworthy of Holy Communion, since to communicate in such a state would be horrible sacrilege.

Others live in grace; but, absorbed in the things of earth, loving our Lord but little, they prefer to remain in their tepidity, they do not desire to become more fervent by approaching often, still less every day, to the Flame of Love, which is Jesus Christ!

Others, in fine, love Him and would be happy to receive Him often, even daily, in the Sacrament, and ever to increase in His love. But they dare not do so because of certain prejudices and vain fears, which prevent their approach to the Holy Table."

O timid, fearful souls, why not despise these fears and prejudices, and give heed to the voice of the Church? [S. Antoni, Vain Fears, pp. 10-11.]

It will be found likewise to contribute very much to keep fervor alive in the soul, often to make a spiritual Communion, so much recommended by the Council of Trent, [Sess. xiii. cap: 8.] which exhorts all the faithful to practice it. The spiritual Communion, as St. Thomas says, [P. 3, q. 79, a. 1.] consists in an ardent desire to receive Jesus Christ in the Holy Sacrament; and therefore the Saints were careful to make it several times in the day. The method of making it is this: "My Jesus, I believe that Thou art really present in the Most Holy. Sacrament. I love Thee, and I desire Thee; come to my soul. I embrace Thee; and I beseech Thee never to allow me to be separated from Thee again." Or more briefly thus: "My Jesus, come to me; I desire Thee; I embrace Thee; let us remain ever united together." This spiritual Communion may be practiced several times a day: when we make our prayer, when we make our visit to the Blessed Sacrament, and especially when we attend Mass at the moment of the priest's Communion. The Dominican Sister Blessed Angela of the Cross said: "If my confessor had not taught me this method of communicating spiritually several times a day, I should not have trusted myself to live."

5. Prayer.

The fifth and most necessary means for the spiritual life, and for obtaining the love of Jesus Christ, is prayer. In the first place, I say that by this means God convinces us of the great love He bears us. What greater proof of affection can a person give to a friend than to say to him, " My friend, ask anything you like of me, and I will give it you?" Now, this is precisely what our Lord says to us: Ask, and it shall be given you . . . seek, and you shall find. [Matt. vii. 7.] Wherefore prayer is called all-powerful with God to obtain every blessing: "Prayer, though it is one, can effect all things," as Theodoret says; [Ap. Rodr. p. I, tr. 5, c. 14; Wisd. vii. 27.] whoever prays, obtains from God whatever he chooses. The words of David are beautiful: Blessed be God Who hath not turned away my prayer, nor His mercy from me. [Ps. lxv. 20.] Commenting on this passage, St. Augustine says, "As long as thou seest thyself not failing in prayer, be assured that the Divine mercy will not fail thee either." And St. John Chrysostom: "We always obtain, even while we are still praying."

When we pray to God He grants us the grace we ask for, even before we have ended our petition. If then we are poor, let us blame only ourselves, since we are poor merely because we wish to be poor, and so we are undeserving of pity. What sympathy can there be for a beggar, who, having a very rich master, and one most desirous to provide him with everything if he will only ask for it, nevertheless chooses still to continue in his poverty sooner than ask for what he wants? "Behold," says the Apostle, "our God is ready to enrich all who call upon Him:" Rich unto all that call upon Him. [Rom. x. 12.]

Humble prayer, then, obtains all from God; but we must be persuaded at the same time, that if it be useful, it is no less necessary for our salvation. It is certain that we absolutely require the Divine assistance, in order to overcome temptations; and sometimes, in certain more violent assaults, the sufficient grace which God gives to all, might possibly enable us to resist them; but on account of our inclination to evil, it will not ordinarily be sufficient, and we shall stand in need of a special grace. Whoever prays obtains this grace; but whoever prays not, obtains it not, and is lost. And this is more especially the case with regard to the grace of final perseverance, of dying in the grace of God, which is the grace absolutely necessary for our salvation, and without which we should be lost forever. St. Augustine [De Dono pers. c. 16.] says of this grace, that God only bestows it on those who pray. And this is the reason why so few are saved, because few indeed are mindful to beg of God this grace of perseverance.

In fine, the holy Fathers say, that prayer is necessary for us, not merely as a necessity of precept (so that divines say, that he who neglects for a month to recommend to God the affair of his salvation is not exempt from mortal sin), but also as a necessity of means, which is as much as to say, that whoever does not pray cannot possibly be saved. And the reason of it is, in short, because we cannot obtain eternal salvation without the help of Divine grace, and this grace Almighty God only accords to those who pray. And because temptations, and the dangers of falling into God's displeasure, continually beset us, so ought our prayers to be continual. Hence St. Thomas declares that continual prayer is necessary for a man to save himself: "Unceasing prayer is necessary to man, that he may enter Heaven." [P. 3, q. 39. a. 5.] And Jesus Christ Himself had already said the same thing: We ought always to pray, and not to faint. [Luke, xviii. 1.] And afterwards the Apostle: Pray without ceasing. [1 Thess. v. 17.] During the interval in which we shall cease to pray, the devil will conquer us. And though the grace of perseverance can in no wise be merited by us, as the Council of Trent teaches us, [Sess. vi. cap. 13.] nevertheless St. Augustine says, "that in a certain sense we can merit it by prayer." The Lord wishes to dispense His grace to us, but he will be entreated first: nay more, as St. Gregory remarks, he wills to be importuned, and in a manner constrained by our prayers: [In Ps. vi. p.n.] "God wishes to be prayed to,-----He wishes to be compelled,-----He wishes to be, as it were, vanquished by our importunity." [De Dono pers. c. 6.] St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi said, "that when we ask graces of God, He not only hears us, but in a certain sense thanks us." Yes, because God, as the infinite goodness, in wishing to pour out Himself upon others, has, so to speak, an infinite longing to distribute his gifts; but He wishes to be besought: hence it follows, that when He sees Himself entreated by a soul, He receives so much pleasure, that in a certain sense He thanks that soul for it.

Well, then, if we wish to preserve ourselves in the grace of God till death, we must act the mendicant, and keep our mouths open to beg for God's help, always repeating, "My Jesus, mercy; never let me be separated from Thee; O Lord, come to my aid; My God, assist me!" This was the unceasing prayer of the ancient ' Fathers of the desert: "Incline unto my aid, O God: O Lord, make haste to help me! [Ps. lxix. 2.] O Lord, help me, and help me soon; for if Thou delayest Thy assistance, I shall fall and perish!" And this above all must be practiced in the moment of temptation; he who acts otherwise is lost.

And let us have a great faith in prayer. God has promised to hear him that prays: Ask, and you shall receive. [John, xvi. 24.] How can we doubt, says St. Augustine, since God has bound Himself by express promise, and cannot fail to grant us the favors we ask of Him? "By promising He has made Himself our debtor." [Serm. 110, E. B.] In recommending ourselves to God, we must have a sure confidence that God hears us, and then we shall obtain whatever we want. Behold what Jesus Christ says: All things, whatsoever you ask when ye pray, believe that you shall receive, and they shall come unto you. [Mark, xi. 24.]

"But," some one may say, " I am a sinner, and do not deserve to be heard." But Jesus Christ says, Every one that asketh, receiveth. [Luke, xi. 10.] Everyone, be he just, or be he a sinner. St. Thomas teaches us that the efficacy of prayer to obtain graces does not depend on our merits, but on the mercy of God, Who has promised to hear everyone who prays to Him." [2. 2, q. 178, a. 2.] And our Redeemer, in order to remove from us all fear when we pray, said: Amen, amen, I say to you, if you shall ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it you. [John, xvi. 23.] As though He would say: Sinners, you have no merits of your own to obtain graces, wherefore do in this manner; when you would obtain graces, ask them of My Father in My name; that is, through My merits and through My love; and then ask as many as you choose, and they shall be granted to you. But let us mark well those words, "In My name;" which signify (as St. Thomas explains it), "in the name of the Saviour;" or, in other words, that the graces which we ask must be graces which regard our eternal salvation; and consequently we must remark that the promise does not regard temporal favors; these our Lord grants, when they are profitable for our eternal welfare; if they would prove otherwise, He refuses them. So that we should always ask for temporal favors, on condition that they will benefit our soul. But should they be spiritual graces, then they require no condition; but with confidence, and a sure confidence, we should say: "Eternal Father, in the name of Jesus Christ deliver me from this temptation: grant me holy perseverance, grant me Thy love, grant me Heaven." We can likewise ask these graces of Jesus Christ in His Own name; that is, by His merits, since we have His promise also to this effect: If you shall ask Me anything in My name, that I will do. [John, xiv. 14.]

And whilst we pray to God, let us not forget to recommend ourselves at the same time to Mary, the dispenser of graces. St. Bernard says, that it is Almighty God Who bestows the graces; but He bestows them through the hands of Mary: "Let us seek grace, and let us seek it through Mary; because what she seeks she finds, and cannot be refused." [De Aquaed.] If Mary prays for us, we are safe, for every petition of Mary is heard, and she can never meet with a repulse.

O Jesus, my love, I am determined to love Thee as much as I can, and I wish to become a Saint; and I wish to become a Saint for this reason, in order to give Thee pleasure, and to love Thee exceedingly in this life and the next! I can do nothing of myself, but Thou canst do all things; and I know that Thou wishest me to become a Saint. I see already that by Thy grace my soul sighs only for Thee, and seeks nothing else but Thee.

I wish to live no more for myself; Thou desirest me to be wholly Thine, and I desire to be wholly Thine. Come, and unite me to Thyself, and Thyself to me. Thou art infinite goodness; Thou art He Who hast loved me so much; Thou art, indeed, too loving and too lovely; how, then, can I love anything but Thee? I prefer Thy love before all the things of this world; Thou art the sole object, the sole end of all my affections. I leave all to be occupied solely in loving Thee, my Redeemer, my Comforter, my hope, my love, and my all. I will not despair of becoming a Saint on account of the sins of my past life; for I know, my Jesus, that Thou didst die in order to pardon the truly penitent. I love Thee now with my whole heart, with my whole soul; I love Thee more than myself, and I bewail, above every other evil, ever having had the misfortune to despise Thee, my sovereign good. Now I am no longer my own. I am Thine; O God of my heart, dispose of me as Thou pleasest. In order to please Thee, I accept of all the tribulations Thou mayest choose to send me-----sickness, sorrow, troubles, ignominies, poverty, persecution, desolation-----I accept all to please Thee: in like manner I accept of the death Thou hast decreed for me, with all the anguish and crosses which may accompany it: it is enough if Thou grantest me the grace to love Thee exceedingly. Lend me Thy assistance; give me strength henceforth to compensate, by my love, for all the bitterness that I have caused Thee in past time, O only love of my soul!

O Queen of Heaven, O Mother of God, O great advocate of sinners, I trust in thee!

1. Mor. 1. 10, c. 8.

2. Col. 3:14

3. Lettre 51

4. Antidotum, quo liberemur a culpis quotidian is.

5. Way of Per. ch. 42.

6. Inter. Castle, ch. 3.

7. Found. ch. 29.

8. Apoc. 3:15, 16

9. Past. p. 3, adm. 35.

10. Luke 18:27

11. De Disc. mon, c. 6.

12. Ep. 17, E. B. app.

St Alphonsus Liguori, Pray for
 us! Sancta Alphonsus Liguori, Ora Pro Nobis! Amen

CHAPTER V

CHARITY IS NOT PUFFED UP

He that loves Jesus Christ is not vain of his own Worth, but humbles himself, and is glad to be humbled by Others.

A PROUD person is like a balloon filled with air, which seems, indeed, great; but whose greatness, in reality, is nothing more than a little air; which, as soon as the balloon is opened, is quickly dispersed. He who loves God is humble, and is not elated at seeing any worth in himself; because he knows that whatever he possesses is the gift of God, and that of his own he has only nothingness; and sin; so that this knowledge of the Divine favors bestowed on him humbles him the more; whilst he is conscious of being so unworthy, and yet so favored by God.

St. Teresa says, in speaking of the especial favors she received from God: "God does with me as they do with a house, which, when about to fall, they prop up with supports." When a soul receives a loving visit from God, and feels within herself an unwonted fervor of Divine love, accompanied with tears, or with a great tenderness of heart, let her beware of supposing that God so favors her, in reward for some good action; but let her then humble herself the more, concluding that God caresses her in order that she may not forsake Him; otherwise, were she to make such favors the subject of vain complacency, imagining herself more privileged, because she receives greater gifts from God than others, such a fault would induce God to deprive her of His favors. Two things are chiefly requisite for the stability of a house-----the foundation and the roof; the foundation in us must be humility, in acknowledging ourselves good for nothing, and capable of nothing; and the roof is the Divine assistance, in which alone we ought to put all our trust.

Whenever we behold ourselves unusually favored by God, we must humble ourselves the more. When St. Teresa received any special favor, she used to strive to place before her eyes all the faults she had ever committed; and thus the Lord received her into closer union with himself: the more a soul confesses herself undeserving of any favors, the more God enriches her with his graces. Thais, who was first a sinner and then a Saint, humbled herself so profoundly before God that she dared not even mention His name; so that she had not the courage to say, "My God;" but she said, "My Creator, have mercy on me!" [Vitae Patr. l. 1.] And St. Jerome writes, that in recompense for such humility, she saw a glorious throne prepared for her in Heaven. In the life of St. Margaret of Cortona we read the same thing; that, when our Lord visited her one day with greater tokens of tenderness and love, she exclaimed: "But, O Lord, hast Thou then forgotten what I have been? Is it possible that Thou canst repay all my outrages against Thee with so exquisite sweetness?" And God replied, that when a soul loves Him, and cordially repents of having offended Him, He forgets all her past infidelities; as, indeed, He formerly spoke by the mouth of Ezechiel: But If the wicked do penance I will not remember all his iniquities." [Ezech. xviii. 21, 22.] And in proof of this, He showed her a high throne, which He had prepared for her in Heaven in the midst of the seraphim. Oh, that we could only well comprehend the value of humility! A single act of humility is worth more than all the riches of the universe.

It was the saying of St. Teresa, "Think not that thou hast advanced far in perfection, till thou considerest thyself the worst of all, and desirest to be placed below all." And on this maxim the Saint acted, and so have done all the Saints; St. Francis of Assisi, St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi, and the rest, considered themselves the greatest sinners in the world, and were surprised that the earth sheltered them, and did not rather open under their feet to swallow them up alive; and they expressed themselves to this effect with the sincerest conviction. The Venerable Father John of Avila, who, from his earliest infancy had led a holy life, was on his deathbed; and the priest who came to attend him said many sublime things to him, taking him for what indeed he was, a great servant of God and a learned man; but Father Avila thus spoke to him: "Father, I pray you to make the recommendation of my soul, as of the soul of a criminal condemned to death; for such I am." This is the opinion which Saints entertain of themselves in life and death.

We, too, must act in this manner, if we would save our souls, and keep ourselves in the grace of God till death, reposing all our confidence in God alone. The proud man relies on his own strength, and falls on that account; but the humble man, by placing all his trust in God alone, stands firm and falls not, however violent and multiplied the temptations may be; for his watchword is: I can do all things in Him that strengtheneth me. [Phil. iv. 13.] The devil at one time tempts us to presumption, at another time to diffidence; whenever he suggests to us that we are in no danger of falling, then we should tremble the more; for were God but for an instant to withdraw His grace from us, we are lost. When, again, he tempts us to diffidence, then let us turn to God, and thus address Him with great confidence: In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped, I shall never be confounded. [Ps. xxx. 2.] My God, in Thee I have put all my hopes; I hope never to meet with confusion, nor to be bereft of Thy grace. We ought to exercise ourselves continually, even to the very last moments of our life, in these acts of diffidence in ourselves and of confidence in God, always beseeching God to grant us humility.

But it is not enough, in order to be humble, to have a lowly opinion of ourselves, and to consider ourselves the miserable beings that we really are; the man who is truly humble, says Thomas Kempis, despises himself, and wishes also to be despised by others. This is what Jesus Christ so earnestly recommends us to practice, after His example: Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart. [Matt. xi. 29.] Whoever styles himself the greatest sinner in the world, and then is angry when others despise him, plainly shows humility of tongue, but not of heart. St. Thomas Aquinas says, that a person who resents being slighted may be certain that he is far distant from perfection, even though he should work miracles. The Divine Mother sent St. Ignatius Loyola from Heaven to instruct St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi in humility; and behold the lesson which the Saint gave her: "Humility is a gladness at whatever leads us to despise our selves." [Cepar. c. 11.] Mark well, a gladness; if the feelings are stirred with resentment at the contempt we receive, at least let us be glad in spirit.

And how is it possible for a soul not to love contempt, if she loves Jesus Christ, and beholds how her God was buffeted and spit upon, and how He suffered in His Passion! Then did they spit in His face and buffeted Him; and others struck His face with the palms of their hands. [Matt. xxvi. 67.] For this purpose our Redeemer wishes us to keep His image exposed on our altars, not indeed representing Him in glory, but nailed to the Cross, that we might have His ignominies constantly before our eyes; a sight which made the Saints rejoice at being vilified in this world. And such was the prayer which St. John of the Cross addressed to Jesus Christ, when He appeared to him with the Cross upon His shoulders: "O Lord, let me suffer, and be despised for Thee!" My Lord, on beholding Thee so reviled for my love, I only ask of Thee to let me suffer and be despised for Thy love. St. Francis de Sales said, [Spirit, ch. 10.] "To support injuries is the touchstone of humility and of true virtue." If a person pretending to spirituality practices prayer, frequent Communion, fasts, and mortifies himself, and yet cannot put up with an affront, or a biting word, of what is it a sign? It is a sign that he is a hollow cane, without humility and without virtue. And what indeed can a soul do that loves Jesus Christ, if she is unable to endure a slight for the love of Jesus Christ, Who has endured so much for her? Thomas Kempis, in his golden little book of the Imitation of Christ writes as follows: "Since you have such an abhorrence of being humbled, it is a sign that you are not dead to the world, have no humility, and that you do not keep God before your eyes. He that has not God before his eyes, is disturbed at every syllable of censure that he hears." Thou canst not endure cuffs and blows for God; endure at least a passing word.

Oh what surprise and scandal does that person occasion, who communicates often, and then is ready to resent every little word of contempt! On the contrary, what edification does a soul give that answers contempts with words of mildness, spoken in order to conciliate the offender; or perhaps makes no reply at all, nor complains of it to others, but continues with placid looks, and without showing the least sign of indignation! St. John Chrysostom says, that a meek person is not only serviceable to himself but likewise to others, by the good example he sets them of meekness in bearing contempt: "The meek man is useful to himself and to others." [In Act. hom. 6.] Thomas Kempis mentions, with regard to this subject, several things in which we should practice humility; he says as follows: "What others say shall command an attentive hearing, and what you say shall be taken no notice of. Others shall make a request and obtain it; you shall ask for something and meet with a refusal. Others shall be magnified in the mouths of men, and on you no one shall bestow a word. Such and such an office shall be conferred on others, but you shall be passed by as unfit for anything. With such like trials the Lord is wont to prove His faithful servant; and to see how far he has learned to overcome himself and to hold his peace. Nature, indeed, will at times not like it; but you will derive immense profit thereby, if you support all in silence."

It was a saying of St. Jane of Chantal, that "a person who is truly humble takes occasion from receiving some humiliation to humble himself the more." [Marsol. l. 4. ch. 8.] Yes, for he who is truly humble never supposes himself humbled as much as he deserves. Those who behave in this manner are styled blessed by Jesus Christ. They are not called blessed who are esteemed by the world, who are honored and praised, as noble, as learned, as powerful; but they who are spoken ill of by the world, who are persecuted and calumniated; for it is for such that a glorious reward is prepared in Heaven, if they only bear all with patience: Blessed are you when they shall revile you and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you untruly for My sake: be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in Heaven. [Matt. v. 11.]

The grand occasion for practicing humility is when we receive correction for some fault from Superiors or from others. Some people resemble the hedgehog: they seem all calmness and meekness as long as they remain untouched; but no sooner does a Superior or a friend touch them, by an observation on something which they have done imperfectly, than they forthwith become all prickles, and answer warmly, that so and so is not true, or that they were right in doing so, or that such a correction is quite uncalled for. In a word, to rebuke them is to become their enemy; they behave like a person who raves at the surgeon for paining them in the cure of their wounds. "He is angry with the surgeon,'" writes St. Bernard. [In Cant. s. 42.] "When the virtuous and humble man is corrected for a fault," says St. John Chrysostom, "he grieves for having committed it; the proud man on the other hand, on receiving correction, grieves also, but he grieves that his fault is detected; and on this account he is troubled, gives answers, and is angry with the person who corrects him." This is the golden rule given by St. Philip Neri, to be observed with regard to receiving correction: "Whoever would really become a Saint must never excuse himself, although what is laid to his charge be not true." [Bacci. l. 2, ch, 17.] And there is only one case to be excepted from this rule, and that is when self-defense may appear necessary to prevent scandal. Oh, what merit with God has that soul that is wrongfully reprehended, and yet keeps silence, and refrains from defending itself! St. Teresa said: "There are occasions when a soul makes more progress and acquires a greater degree of perfection by refraining from excusing herself than by listening to ten sermons; because by not excusing herself she begins to obtain freedom of spirit, and to be heedless whether the world speaks well or ill of her." [Way of Perf. ch. 16.]

Affections and Prayers.

O Incarnate Word! I entreat Thee, by the merits of Thy holy humility, which led Thee to embrace so many ignominies and injuries for our love, deliver me from all pride, and grant me a share of Thy humility. And what right have I to complain of any affront whatever that may be offered me, after having so often deserved Hell? O my Jesus, by the merit of all the scorn and affronts endured for me in Thy Passion, grant me the grace to live and die humbled on this earth, as Thou didst live and die humbled for my sake. For Thy love I would willingly be despised and forsaken by all the world; but without Thee I can do nothing. I love Thee, O my sovereign good; I love Thee, O beloved of my soul! I love Thee; and I hope, through Thee, to fulfill my purpose of suffering all for Thee,-----affronts, betrayals, persecutions, afflictions, dryness, and desolation; enough is it for me if Thou dost not forsake me, O sole object of the love of my soul. Suffer me never more to estrange myself from Thee. Enkindle in me the desire to please Thee. Grant me fervor in loving Thee. Give me peace of mind in suffering for Thee. Give me resignation in all contradictions. Have mercy on me. I deserve nothing; but I fix all my hopes in Thee, Who hast purchased me with Thine Own Blood.

And I hope all from thee, too, O my Queen and my Mother Mary, who art the refuge of sinners!

St Alphonsus Liguori, Pray for us! Sancta Alphonsus Liguori, Ora Pro Nobis! Amen


CHAPTER VI

CHARITY IS NOT AMBITIOUS

He that loves Jesus Christ desires Nothing but Jesus Christ.

HE that loves God does not desire to be esteemed and loved by his fellow-men: the single desire of his heart is to enjoy the favor of Almighty God, Who alone forms the object of his love. St. Hilary writes, that all honor paid by the world is the business of the devil. [In Matt. c. 3. n. 5.] And so it is; for the enemy traffics for Hell, when he infects the soul with the desire of esteem; because, by thus laying aside humility, she runs great risks of plunging into every vice. St. James writes, that as God confers His graces with open hands upon the humble, so does He close them against the proud, whom He resists. God resists the proud, and gives His grace to the humble. [James, iv. 6.] He says he resists the proud, signifying that He does not even listen to their prayers. And certainly, among the acts of pride we may reckon the desire to be honored by men, and self-exaltation at receiving honors from them.

We have a frightful example of this in the history of Brother Justin the Franciscan, who had even risen to a lofty state of contemplation; but because perhaps-----and indeed without a perhaps-----he nourished within himself a desire of human esteem, behold what befell him. One day Pope Eugenius IV sent for him; and on account of the great opinion he had of his sanctity, showed him peculiar marks of honor, embraced him, and made him sit by his side. Such high honors filled Brother Justin full of self-conceit; on which St. John Capistran said to him, "Alas, Brother Justin, thou didst leave us an angel, and thou returnest a devil!" And in fact, the hapless Brother becoming daily more and more puffed up with arrogance, and insisting on being treated according to his own estimate of himself, he at last murdered a brother with a knife; he afterwards became an apostate, and fled into the kingdom of Naples, where he perpetrated other atrocities; and there he died in prison, an apostate to the last. Hence it is that a certain great servant of God wisely said, that when we hear or read of the fall of some towering cedars of Libanus, of a Solomon, a Tertullian, an Osius, who had all the reputation of Saints, it is a sign that they were not given wholly to God; but nourished inwardly some spirit of pride and so fell away. Let us therefore tremble, when we feel arise within us an ambition to appear in public, and to be esteemed by the world; and when the world pays us some tribute of honor, let us beware of taking complacency in it, which might prove the cause of our utter ruin. Let us especially be on our guard against all ambitious seeking of preference, and sensibility in points of honor. St. Teresa said. "Where punctiliousness prevails, there spirituality will never prevail." [Way of Perf. c. 13] Many persons make profession of a spiritual life, but they are worshippers of self. They have the semblance of certain virtues, but they are ambitious of being praised in all their undertakings; and if nobody else praises them, they praise themselves: in short, they strive to appear better than others; and if their honor be touched, they lose their peace, they leave off Holy Communion, they omit all their devotions, and find no rest till they imagine they have got back their former standing. The true lovers of God do not so behave. They not only carefully shun every word of self-esteem and all self-complacency, but, further, they are sorry at hearing themselves commended by others, and their gladness is to behold themselves held in small repute by the rest of men.

The saying of St. Francis of Assisi is most true: "What I am before God, that I am." Of what use is it to pass for great in the eyes of the world, if before God we be vile and worthless? And on the contrary, what matters it to be despised by the world, provided we be dear and acceptable in the eyes of God? St. Augustine thus writes: "The approbation of him who praises neither heals a bad conscience, nor does the reproach of one who blames wound a good conscience." [Contra Petil. l. 3, c. 7.] As the man who praises us cannot deliver us from the chastisement of our evil doings, so neither can he who blames us rob us of the merit of our good actions. "What does it matter," says St. Teresa, "though we be condemned and reviled by creatures, if before Thee, O God! we are great and without blame?" The Saints had no other desire than to live unknown, and to pass for contemptible in the estimation of all. Thus writes St. Francis de Sales: " But what wrong do we suffer when people have a bad opinion of us, since we ought to have such of ourselves? Perhaps we know that we are bad, and yet wish. to pass off for good in the estimation of others." [Spirit. ch. 3.]

Oh, what security is found in the hidden life for such as wish cordially to love Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ Himself set us the example, by living hidden and despised for thirty years in a workshop. And with the same view of escaping the esteem of men, the Saints went and hid themselves in deserts and in caves. It was said by St. Vincent of Paul, [Abelly, l. 3. ch. 34,48.] that a love of appearing in public, and of being spoken of in terms of praise, and of hearing our conduct commended, or that people should say that we succeed admirably and work wonders, is an evil which, while it makes us unmindful of God, contaminates our best actions, and proves the most fatal drawback to the spiritual life.

Whoever, therefore, would make progress in the Jove of Jesus Christ, must absolutely give a death-blow to the love of self-esteem. But how shall we inflict this blow? Behold how St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi instructs us: "That which keeps alive the appetite for self-esteem is the occupying a favorable position in the minds of all; consequently the death of self-esteem is to keep one's self hidden, so as not to be known to anyone. And till we learn to die in this manner, we shall never be true servants of God." [Cepar. c. 13.]

In order, then, to be pleasing in the sight of God, we must avoid all ambition of appearing and of making a parade in the eyes of men. And we must shun with still greater caution the ambition of governing others. Sooner than behold this accursed ambition set foot in the convent, St. Teresa [Way of Perf. ch. 8.] declared she would prefer to have the whole convent burned, and all the nuns with it. So that she signified her wish, that if ever one of her religious should be caught aiming at the Superiorship, she should be expelled from the community, or at least undergo perpetual confinement. St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi said, "The honor of a spiritual person consists in being put below all, and in abhorring all superiority over others. The ambition of a soul that loves God should be to excel all others in humility, according to the counsel of St. Paul: In humility let each esteem others better than themselves. [Phil. ii. 3.] In a word, he that loves God must make God the sole object of his ambition.

Affections and Prayers.

My Jesus, grant me the ambition of pleasing Thee, and make me forget all creatures and myself also. What will it profit me to be loved by the whole world, if I be not loved by Thee, the only love of my soul! My Jesus, Thou camest into the world to win our hearts; if I am unable to give Thee my heart, do Thou please to take it and replenish it with Thy love, and never allow me to be separated from Thee any more. I have, alas! turned my back upon Thee in the past; but now that I am conscious of the evil I have done, I grieve over it with my whole heart, and no affliction in the world can so distress me, as the remembrance of the offenses that I have so often committed against Thee. I am consoled to think that Thou art infinite goodness, that Thou dost not disdain to love a sinner who loves Thee. My beloved Redeemer, O sweetest love of my soul, I have heretofore slighted Thee; but now at least I love Thee more than myself! I offer Thee myself and all that belongs to me. I have only the one wish to love Thee, and to please Thee. This forms all my ambition; accept of it, and be pleased to increase it, and exterminate in me all desire of earthly goods. Thou art indeed deserving of love. and great indeed are my obligations of loving Thee. Behold me then, I wish to be wholly Thine: and I will suffer whatever Thou pleasest, Thou who for love of me didst die of sorrow on the Cross! Thou wishest me to be a Saint; Thou canst make me a Saint; in Thee I place my trust.

And I also confide in thy protection, O Mary, great Mother of God!


St Alphonsus Liguori, Pray
 for us! Sancta Alphonsus Liguori, Ora Pro Nobis! Amen

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