1. All holiness consists in loving God. The love of God is that infinite treasure in which we gain the friendship of God.1 God is ready to give this treasure of his holy love, but he wills that we earnestly desire it. He that faintly desires any good thing takes little trouble to gain it. On the other hand, St. Laurence Justinian said that an earnest desire lightens all toil, and gives us strength.2 And thus, he who little desires to advance in divine love, instead of becoming more ardent in the way of perfection, ever becomes more and more lukewarm; and thus is ever in imminent peril of falling headlong down some precipice. And, on the other hand, whoever aspires with fervent desire after perfection, and strengthens himself daily to advance in its path, little by little, with time will attain it. St. Teresa said, “God never gives many favors, except to those who earnestly desire his love.” And again, “God leaves no good desire without its reward.”3 And therefore the saint advises every one not to suffer his desires to slacken, because, trusting in God, and strengthening ourselves little by little, we shall reach that point which all the saints have reached.
It is a deceit of the devil, according to the opinion of the same saint, which makes us think that it is a mark of pride to desire to become saints. It would be pride and presumption, if we trusted in our own works or intentions; but if we hope for all from God, he will give us that strength which we have not. Let us, then, desire, with a very great desire, to attain to a lofty height of divine love; and let us say, with courage, I can do all things through Him that strengtheneth me.4 And if we do not find that we possess this great desire, at least let us ask it urgently of Jesus Christ, that he may give it to us.
2. We will now pass on to the second means resolution. Good desires must be accompanied by a determined spirit to strengthen ourselves in the attainment of the desired blessing. Many desire perfection, but take no right means to gain it; they want to live in a desert, to accomplish great works of penance and prayer, to endure martyrdom; but such desires are nothing better than mere fancies, which, instead of benefiting them, do them great harm. These are the desires which slay the slothful man.5 Such a person, feeding himself upon these fruitless desires, pays no heed to the cure of his defects, the mortification of his appetites, and patience in suffering contempt and crosses. He would do great things, but such as are incompatible with his present condition, and therefore his imperfections increase; in every time of adversity he is agitated, every infirmity makes him impatient; and thus he lives imperfect, and imperfect he dies.
If, then, we truly desire to become saints, let us resolve --
1. To avoid every venial sin, however slight.
2. To detach ourselves from every earthly desire.
3. Let us not cease our accustomed exercises of prayer and mortification, however great may be the weariness and dryness we feel in them.
4. Let us meditate daily on the Passion of Jesus Christ, which inflames with divine love every heart that meditates upon it.
5. Let us resign ourselves in peace to the will of God in all things that trouble us, as Father Balthazar Alvarez said, “He that in troubles resigns himself to the divine will, runs to God as swift as by a post.”
6. Let us continually beg of God the gift of his holy love.
Resolution, resolution, said St. Teresa: “The devil has no dread of irresolute souls.”6 On the contrary, he who resolves to give himself truly to God will overcome even what seemed impossible. A resolved will conquers everything. Let us study to redeem the time that is lost; the time that remains, let us give it all to God. All time that is not devoted to God is lost. Do we not fear lest God should abandon us to our lukewarmness, which may lead us to utter ruin? Let us take courage, and live from this day forth upon the holy maxim, “We must please God even to death.” Souls thus resolute are assisted by the Lord to fly in the way of perfection.
He that would belong wholly to God must resolve --
1. Not to commit even the slightest venial sin.
2. To give himself to God without reserve, and therefore to neglect nothing which may be pleasing to God, always with the approbation of his director.
3. Out of all good things, to choose that which is most pleasing to God.
4. Not to wait for the morrow, but whatever can be done to-day, to do it.
5. To pray daily to God, that he may increase in his love. With love everything can be done; without love, nothing. To gain everything, we must give everything. Jesus has given himself wholly to us, that we may be wholly his.
O miserable being that I am! O Thou God of my soul! for so many years I have lived upon earth, and what progress have I made in Thy love? My progress has been in my faulty in self-love, in sins. And shall I live this life even unto death? No; Jesus, my Saviour, help me: I would no longer be so ungrateful as I have been till now. I would truly love Thee, and would leave all to please Thee. Give me Thy hand, O Jesus! Thou who hast poured forth all Thy blood, that Thou mightest see me Thine. Such I would be, with Thy grace. Even till death, aid me, and strip me of everything which may hinder me from belonging wholly to Thee, who hast so much loved me. Grant it me through Thy merits; from Thee I hope it. And I hope it also from thee, O my Mother Mary. With thy prayers, which can obtain everything from God, obtain for me the grace of belonging wholly to him.
1“Infinitus enim thesaurus est hominibus, quo, qui usi sunt, participes facti sunt amicitiæ Dei.” -- Wis. vii. 14.
2De Disc. mon. a. 6.
3Way of Perf. ch. 35.
4“Omnia possum in eo qui me confortat.” -- Phil. iv. 13.
5“Desideria occidunt pigrum.” -- Prov. xxi. 25.
6Way of Perf. ch. 24.