Tuesday, 30 June 2009

In God Alone is Found True Peace

He that seeks peace in creatures will never find it, because no creatures are fitted for giving satisfaction to the heart. God has created man for himself, who is an infinite good; wherefore God alone can content him. Hence it comes that many persons, though loaded with riches, honors, and earthly pleasures, are never satisfied; they are ever seeking for more honors, more possessions, more amusements; and, however many they obtain, they are always restless, and never enjoy a day of true peace. Delight thou in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desire of thy heart.1 When any person delights only in God, and seeks nothing but God, God himself will take care to satisfy all the desires of his heart; and then he will attain the happy state of those souls who desire nothing but to please God.

Senseless are they who say, “Happy is he who can employ himself as he likes, who can command others, who can take what pleasures he pleases.” It is madness; he alone is happy who loves God, who says that God alone is sufficient for him. Experience, shows clearly that multitudes of persons who are called fortunate by men of the world, because they are raised up to the possession of great riches and great dignities, live a miserable life, and never find rest.

But how is this, that so many rich and titled people, and princes, in the midst of the abundance of the goods of the world, do not find peace? And, on the other hand, how is it that so many good religious, who live retired in a cell, poor and hidden, pass their days so happily? How is it that so many solitaries, living in a desert or within a cave, suffering hunger and cold, yet rejoice with gladness? It is because they wait only on God, and God comforts them.

The peace of God surpasseth all understanding.2 Oh, how the peace which the Lord gives to those who love him exceeds all the delights which the world can give! Oh, taste and see how sweet the Lord is.3 O men of the world! cries the prophet, why will ye despise the life of the saints without having ever known it? Try it, for once; leave the world, leave it, and give yourself to God, and you will see how well he knows how to comfort you more than all the greatnesses and delights of this world.

It is true that even the saints suffer great troubles in this life; but they, resigning themselves to the will of God, never lose their peace The lovers of the world seem now at times joyful, at times sad, but, in truth, they are ever restless and in a state of storms. On the other hand, the lovers of God are superior to all adversity and to the changes of this world, and therefore they live in uniform tranquility. See how the celebrated Cardinal Petrucci describes a soul that is wholly given to God: “It beholds all creatures around change into a thousand various forms, while within, the depths of its heart, ever united with God, continue without change.”

But he who would live ever united with God, and would enjoy a continual peace, must drive from his heart everything that is not God, and live as if he were dead to earthly affections O my God! give me strength to separate myself from all the snares that draw me to the world. Grant that I may think of nothing but to please Thee.

Happy are they for whom God alone is sufficient! O Lord! give me grace that I may seek nothing but Thee, and ask for nothing but to love Thee and give Thee pleasure. For love of Thee I now renounce all earthly pleasures, I renounce also all spiritual consolations; I desire nothing but to do Thy will, and to give Thee pleasure. O Mother of God! recommend me to thy Son, who denies thee nothing.

1“Delectare in Domino, et dabit tibi petitiones cordis tui.” -- Ps. xxxvi. 4.

2“Pax Dei, quæ exsuperat omnem sensum.” -- Phil. iv. 7.

3“Gustate, et videte quoniam suavis est Dominus.” -- Ps. xxxiii. 9.


Monday, 29 June 2009

Meditation before the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar

Meditation, wherever it is made, pleases God; but it appears that Jesus Christ especially delights in the meditation that is made before the Most Holy Sacrament, since it appears that there he bestows light and grace most abundantly upon those who visit him. He has left himself in this Sacrament, not only to be the food of souls which receive him in Holy Communion, but also to be found at all times by every one who seeks him. Devout pilgrims go to the holy house of Loretto, where Jesus Christ dwelt during his life, and to Jerusalem, where he died on the cross; but how much greater ought to be our devotion when we find him before us in a tabernacle, where this Lord himself now dwells in person, who lived among us, and died for us on Calvary!

It is not permitted in the world for persons of all ranks to speak alone with kings; but with Jesus Christ, the King of heaven, both nobles and plebeians, rich and poor, can converse at their will in this Sacrament, and employ themselves as long as they will in setting before him their wants, and in seeking his graces; and there Jesus gives audience to all, hears all, and comforts them.

Men of the world, who know no treasures but those of the earth, cannot comprehend what pleasure can be found in spending a long time before an altar, where is placed a consecrated Host; but to souls which love God, hours and days passed before the Blessed Sacrament seem as moments, for the celestial sweetness which the Lord there gives them to taste and to enjoy.

But how can worldly people expect to enjoy this sweetness if they keep their hearts and thoughts full of the earth? St. Francis Borgia said that in order that divine love may rule in our hearts, we must first drive the world away from them; otherwise, divine love will never enter into them, because it finds no place to rest. Be still, and see that I am God,1 said David. In order to have experience of God, and to prove how sweet he is to them that love him, our hearts must be empty, that is, detached from earthly affections. Wouldst Thou find God? “Detach thyself from creatures, and thou shalt find him,” said St. Teresa.

What should a soul do when in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament? It should love and pray. It should not stand there in order to experience sweetness and consolation, but only to give pleasure to God, by making acts of love, by giving itself wholly to God without reserve, by stripping itself of its own will, and offering itself in saying, “O my God, I love Thee, and desire nothing but Thee; grant that I may ever love Thee, and then do with me and with all that I possess according to Thy pleasure.” Among all acts of love, that is most pleasing to God which the blessed continually exercise in heaven, that is to say, the rejoicing in the infinite joy of God; for the blessed soul loves God infinitely more than itself, and therefore desires the happiness of her Beloved far more than her own; and seeing that God enjoys an infinite joy, the blessed soul would thence receive an infinite delight; but as a creature is not capable of an infinite delight, it rests full of satisfaction, and thus the joy of God constitutes its joy and its Paradise. These acts of love, even when made by us without any sensible sweetness, please God greatly. He also does not give to souls whom he loves a perpetual enjoyment of. his comfort in this life, but only at intervals; and when he gives them, he gives them not so much as a reward for good works (the full reward of which he reserves for them in heaven), as to give them more strength to suffer with patience the troubles and adversities of this present life, and especially the distractions and dryness of spirit which pious souls experience in meditation.

So far as distractions are concerned, of these we must not make much account, it is enough to drive them away when they come. For the rest, even the saints suffered involuntary distractions. But they did not on this account leave off meditation; and so also must we do ourselves. St. Francis de Sales said that if in meditation we did nothing but drive away, or seek to drive away, distractions, our meditation would be of great profit. As for dryness of spirit, the greatest pain of souls in meditation is to find themselves sometimes without a feeling of devotion, weary of it, and without any sensible desire of loving God; and with this is often joined the fear of being in the wrath of God through their sins, on account of which the Lord has abandoned them; and being in this gloomy darkness, they know not any way of escaping from it, it seeming to them that every way is closed against them. Let the devout soul, then, continue strong in not leaving off meditation, as the devil will suggest to it. At such a time let it unite its desolation to that which Jesus Christ suffered upon the cross; and if it can only say this, it is enough to say it, at least with the intention of the will, “My God, I would love Thee, I would be wholly thine. Have pity on me; oh, leave me not!” Let it say, also, as a holy soul said to its God, in a time of desolation, “I love Thee, though I seem to myself an enemy in Thy sight: drive me away as Thou wilt; I will ever follow after Thee.”

1“Vacate, et videte quoniam ego sum Deus.” -- Ps. xlv. 11.


Friday, 26 June 2009

The Sight and Love of God in the Next Life will Constitute the Joy of the Blessed

Let us see what it will be which in heaven will make those holy citizens completely happy. The soul in heaven when it sees God face to face, and knows his infinite beauty, and all his perfections that render him worthy of infinite love, cannot but love him with all its powers, and it loves him far more than itself; it even, as it were, forgets itself, and desires nothing but to behold him satisfied and loved who is its God; and seeing that God, who is the only object of all its affections, enjoys an infinite delight, this joy of God constitutes all its paradise. If it were capable of anything that is infinite, in seeing that its Beloved is infinitely content, its own joy thereupon would be also infinite; but, as a creature is not capable of infinite joy, it rests at least satisfied with joy to such an extent that it desires nothing more; and this is that satisfaction that David sighed for, when he said, I shall be satisfied when Thy glory shall appear.1

Thus also is fulfilled what God says to the soul when he admits it into paradise, Enter into the joy of thy Lord.2 He does not bid joy enter into the soul, because this his joy, being infinite, cannot be contained in the creature; but he bids the soul enter into his joy, that it may receive a portion of it, and such a portion as will satisfy it, and fill it with delight.

Therefore, I am of opinion that in meditation, among all acts of love towards God, there is none more perfect than the taking delight in the infinite joy of God. This is certainly the continual exercise of the blessed in heaven; so that he who often rejoices in the joy of God begins in this life to do that which he hopes to do in heaven through all eternity.

The love with which the saints in paradise burn towards God is such that if ever a fear of losing it were to enter their thoughts, or they were to think that they should not love him with all their powers, as now they love him, this fear would cause them to experience the pains of hell. But it is not so; for they are as sure, as they are sure of God, that they will ever love him with all their powers, and that they will be ever loved by God, and this mutual love will never change throughout eternity. O my God! make me worthy of this, through the merits of Jesus Christ.

This happiness, which constitutes paradise, will be further increased by the splendor of that delightful city of God, the beauty of its inhabitants, and by their companionship, especially by that of the Queen of all, Mary, who will appear fairer than all, and by that of Jesus Christ, whose beauty again will infinitely surpass that of Mary.

The joy of the blessed will be increased by the dangers of losing so great a good, which they have all passed through in this life. What, then, will be the thanksgivings that they offer to God, when, through their own sins, they have deserved hell, and now find themselves there on high, whence they will see so many condemned to hell for less guilt than their own, while they are saved, and sure of not losing God, being destined to enjoy eternally those boundless delights in heaven, of which they will never grow weary. In this life, however great and continual be our joys, with time they always weary us; but for the delights of paradise, the more they are enjoyed, the more they are desired; and thus the blessed are ever satisfied and filled with these delights, and ever desire them: they ever desire them, and ever obtain them. Wherefore that sweet song with which the saints praise God and thank him for the happiness he has given them, is called a new song: Sing to the Lord a new song.3 It is called new, because the rejoicings of heaven seem ever new, as though they were experienced for the first time; and thus they ever rejoice in them, and ever ask for them; and, as they ever ask for them, they ever obtain them. Thus, as the damned are called “vessels of wrath,”4 the blessed are called “ vessels of divine love.”5

Justly, then, does St. Augustine6 say that to obtain this eternal blessedness there is needed a boundless labor. Hence, it was little that the anchorites did with their penitential works and prayers to gain Paradise; it was little for the saints to leave their riches and kingdoms to gain it; little that the martyrs suffered from instruments of torture, and burning irons, and cruel deaths.

Let us, at any rate, give heed to suffer joyfully the crosses that God sends us, because they all, if we are saved, will become for us eternal joys. When infirmities, pains, or any adversities afflict us, let us lift up our eyes to heaven and say, “One day all these pains will have an end, and after them I hope to enjoy God forever.” Let us take courage to suffer, and to despise the things of the world. Blessed is he who in death can say with St. Agatha, “O Lord, who hast taken from me the love of the world, receive my soul.”7 Let us endure everything, let us despise everything that is created; it is Jesus who awaits us, and stands with the crown in his hands to make us kings in heaven, if we be faithful to him.

But how can I, O my Jesus! aspire to so great a good,—I, who have so often, through the miserable desires of earth, renounced Paradise before Thee, and trodden under foot Thy grace? Yet Thy blood gives me courage to hope for Paradise, though I have so often deserved hell, because Thou hast died upon the cross, in order to bestow Paradise upon those who have not deserved it. O my God and Redeemer! I would no more lose Thee; give me help to be faithful to Thee; Thy kingdom come; through the merits of Thy blood grant me one day to enter Thy kingdom; and, in the meanwhile, until death comes, enable me perfectly to fulfil Thy will, which is the greatest good, and is that Paradise which can be possessed upon earth by him who loves Thee.

Therefore, O ye souls who love God! while we live in this vale of tears, let us ever sigh for Paradise, and say, “O fair country, wherein love bestows itself upon love, I sigh for Thee hour by hour, when, O my God, when will it be here?”

1“Satiabor, cum apparuerit gloria tua.” -- Ps. xvi. 15.

2“Intra in gaudium Domini tui.” -- Matt. xxv. 21.

3“Cantate Domino canticum novum.” -- Ps. xcvii. 1.

4Vasa iræ.

5Vasa charitatis.

6In Ps. xxx vi. s. 2.

7“Domine, qui abstulisti a me amorem sæculi, accipe animam meam.” -- In ejus off. lect. 6.


Tuesday, 23 June 2009

The Solitude of Heart

St. Gregory wrote, “What does the solitude of the body profit if the solitude of the heart is not there?”1 In the preceding chapter we have seen how much solitude assists towards a recollectedness of mind; but St. Gregory says that it profits us little or nothing to be with the body in a solitary place, while the heart is full of worldly thoughts and affections. That a soul may be wholly given to God, two things are necessary: the first is, to detach ourselves from the love of every created thing; the second is, to consecrate all our love to God; and this is implied in true solitude of the heart.

We must, then, in the first place, detach our heart from every earthly affection. St. Francis de Sales said: “If I knew that I had a single fibre in my heart which was not given to God, I would instantly pluck it out.” If we do not purify and strip the heart of everything earthly, the love of God cannot enter in and possess it all. God would reign with his love in our heart, but he would reign there alone; he will have no companions to rob him of a portion of that affection which he justly claims to have all his own.

Some souls lament that, in all their devout exercises, in meditations, Communions, spiritual readings, visits to the blessed Sacrament, they do not find God, and know not what means to apply themselves to in order to find him. To these St. Teresa suggests the right means when she says, “Detach thy heart from all created things, and seek God, and thou shalt find him.”

Many persons, in order to separate themselves from creatures, and to converse with God alone, cannot go to live in deserts, as they would wish; but we must remember that deserts and caves are not necessary in order to enjoy the solitude of the heart. Those who, from necessity, are obliged to converse with the world, whenever their hearts are free from worldly attachments, even in the public streets, in places of resort, and public assemblies, can possess a solitude of heart, and continue united with God. All those occupations which we undertake in order to fulfil the divine will have no power to prevent the solitude of the heart. St. Catharine of Sienna truly found God in the midst of the household labors in which her parents kept her employed in order to draw her from devotional exercises; but in the midst of these affairs she preserved a retirement in her heart, which she called her cell, and there ceased not to converse alone with God.

Be still, and see that I am God.2 In order to possess that divine light which enables us to know the goodness of God, the knowledge of which draws to itself all the affections of our heart, we must be empty, and separate from us the earthly attachments that hinder us from knowing God. As a crystal vase, when it is filled with sand, cannot receive the light of the sun, so a heart which is attached to riches, worldly honors, or sensual pleasures cannot receive the divine light; and, not knowing God, it does not love him. In every condition in which a man is placed by God, in order that creatures may not draw him from God, it is necessary that he give attention to perform his duties according to the pleasure of God, and then in everything else let him act as if there were no other beings in existence except himself and God.

We must detach ourselves from everything, and especially from ourselves, by continually thwarting our self-love. For example, a certain thing pleases us; we must leave it for the very reason that it pleases us. A certain person has injured us; we must do him good for this very reason. In a word, we must desire and not desire, exactly as God desires or does not desire, without inclination to any one thing; because we do not know that what we ourselves wish is the will of God.

Oh, how easily is God found by every one who detaches himself from creatures in order to find him! The Lord is good to the soul that seeks Him.3 St. Francis de Sales wrote, “The pure love of God consumes every thing that is not God, in order to convert everything into itself.” We must, therefore, offer ourselves as an inclosed garden, as the holy spouse in the Canticles is called by God, My sister, my spouse, is an inclosed garden.4 The soul that keeps its door shut against earthly affections is called an inclosed garden. It is God who has given us everything that we have, and it is right that he should require of us all our love. When, then, any creature would enter and take up a portion of our love, we must altogether deny it an entrance, and, turning to our greatest good, we must say, with all our heart, “What have I in heaven, and what have I desired upon earth, but Thee, O God of my heart, and my portion forever?” “O my God! what but Thyself can satisfy my soul? No; except Thee I desire nothing either in heaven or on earth; Thou alone art sufficient for me, O God of my heart, and my portion forever!”

Oh! happy is he who can say, “I have despised the kingdom of the world, and all the glory of the time, for the love of my Lord Jesus Christ.”5 Truly, that great servant of God, Sister Margaret of the Cross, the daughter of the Emperor Maximilian II , could say this, when, at her profession, she stripped herself of her rich garments and gems, to clothe herself in the poor woolen habit of the Barefooted Nuns of the Strict Rule of St. Clare; and when, as the author of her life relates, she cast them away with a contempt that moved to tears of devotion all who were present at the function.

O my Jesus! for myself I do not desire that creatures should have any part in my heart; Thou must be my only Lord, by possessing it altogether. Let others seek the delights and grandeurs of this life; Thou alone, both in the present and future life, must be my only portion, my only good, my only love. And, as Thou lovest me, as I see by all the signs Thou givest me, help me to detach myself from everything that can draw me from Thy love. Grant that my soul may be all taken up with pleasing Thee, as the only object of all my affections. Take possession of all my heart; I would be no longer my own. Do Thou rule me, and make me ready to follow out all Thy will. O Mary, Mother of God! in thee I trust; thy prayers can make me belong wholly to Jesus.

1“Quid prodest solitude corporis, si solitude defuerit cordis?” -- Mor. l. 30, c. 23.

2“Vacate, et videte quoniam ego sum Deus.” -- Ps. xlv. 11.

3“Bonus est Dominus . . . animæ quærenti illum.” -- Lam. iii. 25.

4“Hortus conclusus soror mea Sponsa.” -- Cant. iv. 12.

5Regnum mundi et omnem ornatum sæculi contempsi, propter amorem Domini mei Jesu Christi.


Monday, 22 June 2009

Love of Solitude

God does not allow himself to be found in the tumult of the world; therefore the saints have been wont to seek him in the most rugged deserts, in the most hidden caves, in order that they might converse with God alone. St. Hilarion made trial of several deserts, going from one to another, ever seeking the most solitary, where no man could communicate with him; and, in the end, he died in a desert in Cyprus, after having lived there for five years. St. Bruno, when he was called by the Lord to leave the world, went, with his companions, who wished to follow him, to find St. Hugh, Bishop of Grenoble, that he might assign them some desert place in his diocese. St. Hugh assigned them the Certosa, which, from its wildness, was more fitted to be a covert for wild beasts than a habitation for men; and there they went with joy to dwell, placing themselves each in so many little huts, each distant from the rest.

The Lord said once to St. Teresa, “I would willingly speak to many souls, but the world makes so much noise in their hearts that they cannot hear my voice.” God does not speak to us in the midst of the rumors and affairs of the world, knowing that if he were to speak he would not be understood. The words of God are his holy inspirations, his lights and calls, through which the saints are enlightened and inflamed with divine love; but they who do not love solitude will be unable to hear these voices of God.

God himself says, I will lead her into solitude and speak to her heart. When God desires to raise any soul to a high degree of perfection, he inspires it to retire to some solitary place, far from the converse of creatures, and there he speaks to the ears, not of the body, but of the heart; and thus he enlightens and inflames it with his divine love.

St. Bernard1 said that he had learned much more of the love of God, in the midst of the oaks and beeches of the forest, than from books and from the servants of God. Therefore St. Jerome left the pleasures of Rome, and shut himself up in the cave of Bethlehem, and then exclaimed, “O solitude, in which God speaks and communes familiarly with his people!”2 In solitude God converses familiarly with his beloved souls, and there he makes them hear those words that melt their hearts with holy love, as the sacred Spouse said, My heart melted when my Beloved spoke.3

We see by experience that conversing with the world, and occupying ourselves in the acquisition of earthly goods, make us forget God; but in the hour of death what do we find from all the toils and time we have spent upon things of the earth, except pains and remorse of conscience? In death we only find comfort from that little which we have done and suffered for God. Why, then, do we not separate ourselves from the world, before death separates it from us?

He shall sit solitary, and hold his peace, because he hath taken it upon himself.4 The solitary is not moved as he was formerly in worldly affairs; he will sit in repose; and he will hold his peace, and will not call for sensual delights to satisfy him, for he is lifted up above himself, and above all created things; in God he will find every good, and all his content.

Who will give me the wings of a dove, that I may fly away, and be at rest?5 David desired to have the wings of a dove, that he might leave this earth, and not touch it even with his feet, and thus give rest to his soul. But while we are in this life, it is not given to us to leave this earth. We must, however, take care to love retirement, so far as it is practicable, conversing alone with God; and thus gaining strength for avoiding those defects that arise from our being obliged to have intercourse with the world; as David said, at the very time he was ruling his kingdom, Behold, I have fled far away, and abode in the wilderness.6

Oh that I had ever thought upon Thee, O God of my soul, and not of the goods of this world! I curse those days in which I went about seeking earthly pleasures, and offended Thee, my greatest good. Oh that I had ever loved Thee! Oh that I had died, and not caused Thee displeasure! Miserable that I am, death draws near, while I find myself still attached to the world! No, my Jesus, from this day I resolve to leave all, and to be wholly Thine. Thou art almighty; Thou must give me strength to be faithful to Thee. O thou Mother of God, pray to Jesus for me!

1Epist. 106.

2O solitudo, in qua Deus cum suis familiariter loquitur et conversatur!

3“Anima mea liquefacta est, ut locutus est.” -- Cant. v. 6.

4“Sedebit solitarius, et tacebit, quia levavit super se.” -- Lam. iii. 28.

5“Quis dabit mihi pennas sicut columbæ, et volabo, et requiescam?” -- Ps. liv. 7.

6Ecce elongavi fugiens, et mansi in solitudine.


Sunday, 21 June 2009

Contempt for the World

The thought of the vanity of the world, and that all things that the world values are but falsehood and deceit, has made many souls resolve to give themselves wholly to God. What does it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?1 How many young persons has this great maxim of the Gospel brought to leave relatives, country, possessions, honors, and even crowns, to go to shut themselves up in a cloister or desert, there to think of God alone! The day of death is called the day of loss: The day of loss is at hand.2 It is a day of loss, because all the goods that we have gained on earth must be left, on the day of our death. Wherefore St. Ambrose wisely says that we falsely call these good things our good things, because we cannot carry them with us into the other world, where we must dwell forever. It is our holy deeds alone that accompany us, and they alone will comfort us in eternity.3

All earthly fortunes, the highest dignities, gold, silver, the most precious jewels, when contemplated from the bed of death, lose their splendor; the dark shadow of death obscures even sceptres and crowns, and makes us see that whatever the world values is but smoke, dust, vanity, and misery. And, in truth, at the time of death, what profit is there in all the riches acquired by the dying person, if nothing belongs to him after death, except a box of wood, in which he is placed to grow corrupt? For what will vaunted beauty of body serve, when there remains of it only a little polluted dust and four fleshless limbs?

What is the life of man upon earth? Behold it, as described by St. James: What is your life? It is a smoke which appeareth for a little while, and then will pass away.4 To-day this great man is esteemed, feared, praised; tomorrow he is despised, contemned, and abused. I saw the wicked lifted on high; I went by, and behold he was gone.5 He is no longer to be found in this his beloved house, in this great palace which he built; and where is he? he is become dust in the grave!

A false balance is in his hand.6 In these words the Holy Spirit advises us not to be deceived by the world, because the world weighs its goods in a false balance; we ought to weigh them in the true balance of faith, which will show us what are the true goods of which it can never be said that they speedily finish. St. Teresa said we should not take account of anything that ends with death. O God! what greatness ever remained to these so many first ministers of state, commanders of armies, princes, Roman emperors, now that the scene is changed, and they find themselves in eternity! Their memory has perished with a sound.7 They made a great figure in the world, and their names resounded among all; but when they were dead, for them was changed rank, name, and everything. It is useful here to notice an inscription placed over a certain cemetery in which many gentlemen and ladies are buried: “See where end all greatness, all earthly pomp, all beauty. Worms, dust, a worthless stone, a little sand, close the brief scene at the end of all.”

The form of this world passeth away.8 Our life is but a scene that passes away and speedily ends; and it must end for all, whether nobles or commoners, kings or subjects, rich or poor. Happy he who, in this scene, has played his part well before God. Philip III., King of Spain, died a young man, at the age of forty-two years; and before he died he said to those who stood by, “When I am dead proclaim the spectacle that you now see; proclaim that, in death, to have been a king, serves only to make one feel the pain of having reigned.” And then he ended with a sigh, saying, “Oh that during this time I had been in a desert, becoming a saint, that now I might appear with more confidence before the tribunal of Jesus Christ!”

We know the change of life of St. Francis Borgia at the sight of the corpse of the Empress Isabella, who, in life, was most beautiful, but, after death, struck horror into all who saw her. Borgia, when he saw her, exclaimed, “Thus, then, end the good things of this world!” and he gave himself wholly to God. Oh that we could all imitate him before death comes upon us! But let us haste, because death runs towards us, and we know not when it will arrive. Let us not so act that the light that God will then give us will cause nothing but remorse, when we hold in our hands the candle of death. Let us resolve to do now what we shall then wish to have done, and shall not be able to do.

No, my God, it is enough that Thou hast hitherto borne with me; I do not wish that Thou shouldst wait longer to see me give myself wholly to Thee. Thou hast called me many times to have done with this world, and to give myself all to Thy love. Now Thou turnest to me to call unto Thee; behold me, receive me into Thy arms, while at this moment I abandon myself wholly to Thee. O Spotless Lamb, who at Calvary was sacrificed on a cross for me, wash me first with Thy blood, and pardon all the injuries that Thou hast received from me; and then inflame me with Thy holy love. I love Thee above everything; I love Thee with all my heart. And what object can I find in the world more worthy of love than Thou art, and which has loved me more? O Mary, Mother of God, and my advocate! pray for me; obtain for me a true and lasting change of life. In thee I trust.

1“Quid enim prodest homini, si mundum universum lucretur, animæ vero suæ detrimentum patiatur?” -- Matt. xvi. 26.

2“Dies perditionis.” -- Deut. xxxii. 35.

3“Non nostra sunt quæ non possumus auferre nobiscum; sola virtus comes est defunctorum.” -- In Luke, l. 7.

4“Quæ est enim vita vestra? Vapor est ad modicum parens, et deinceps exterminabitur.” -- James, iv. 15.

5“Vidi impium superexaltatum . . . et transivi, et ecce non erat.” -- Ps. xxxvi. 35.

6“In manu ejus statera dolosa.” -- Osee, xii. 7.

7“Periit memoria eorum cum sonitu.” -- Ps. ix. 7.

8“Praeteriit enim figura hujus mundi.” -- I Cor. vii. 31.


Wednesday, 17 June 2009

The Pain of having Lost God will be that which Constitutes Hell

The weight of punishment must correspond to the weight of the sin. Mortal sin is defined by theologians in a single phrase, “a turning away from God;”1 and in this consists the wickedness of mortal sin; it consists in despising the divine grace, and in being willing, of one’s own accord, to lose God, who is the greatest good; wherefore justly the greatest punishment of sinners in hell is the punishment of having lost God.

The other pains of hell are terrible: the fire which devours; the gloom which darkens; the cries of the damned which deafen; the stench, which would be enough to cause those miserable beings to die, if die they could; the closeness which oppresses and hinders their breath; but these pains are nothing in comparison with the loss of God. In hell the reprobate wail eternally; and the bitterest subject of their wailing is the thought that, through their own fault, they have lost God.

O God! what a blessing will they have lost! In this life of present objects, passions, temporal occupations, sensible pleasures and adverse events hinder us from contemplating the infinite beauty and goodness of God; but when the soul has departed from the prison-house of the body, it does not instantly behold God as he is; for, if it saw him, it would be instantly blessed; but it knows that God is an infinite good, and worthy of infinite love; whence the soul, which is created to see and love this God, would instantly go to unite itself to God; but if it were in sin, it would find an impenetrable wall (which is sin), that would forever close up the path which leads to God. O Lord! I thank Thee that this life is not yet closed to me, as I have deserved. I still can come to Thee; cast me not away from Thy face!

The soul that is created to love its Creator, by natural love cannot find itself impelled to love its ultimate end, which is God; in this life, the darkness of sin, and earthly affections, lull to sleep this inclination which it has to unite itself to God, and therefore it is not greatly afflicted at being separated; but when it leaves the body, and is delivered from the senses, then it comprehends with a clear knowledge that God only can give it content. Hence, so soon as it is separated from the body, immediately it flees to embrace its greatest good; but finding itself in sin, it perceives that, as an enemy, it is driven from God, But though driven away, it will not cease to feel itself ever drawn to unite itself to God; and this will be its hell, to find itself ever drawn towards God, and ever driven away from God.

But it would be said that the miserable soul, if it has lost God, and can no more see him, can at least comfort itself in loving him. But this is not so; for being abandoned by grace, and made a slave to sin, its will is perverted; so that, on one side, it finds itself ever drawn to love God, and, on the other, compelled to hate him. Thus, at the same time that it knows that God is worthy of infinite love and praise, it hates him and curses him.

Yet perhaps it might, at least in this prison of torments resign itself to the divine will, as holy souls do in purgatory, and bless the hand of this God that justly punishes it. But no; it cannot resign itself, because, to do this, it must be assisted by grace, while grace (as has been said) has abandoned it; whence it cannot unite its will to that of God, because its own will is altogether contrary to the divine will.

Whence it also comes that the wretched soul turns all its hatred upon itself, and thus will live forever, torn by contrary desires. It would fain live, it would fain die. On one part, it would live, in order to hate God, who is the object of its greatest hatred; on the other, it would die, that it might not feel the pain it experiences of having lost him, while it perceives that it cannot die. Thus it will live forever in one continual mortal agony. Let us pray God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, to deliver us from hell; and especially he ought to pray thus, who, at any time in his life, has lost God through any grievous sin.

O Lord! (let him say) save me, and therefore bind me ever to Thee with Thy holy love; redouble these holy and sweet chains of salvation, which may ever bind me the more to Thee, Miserable that I am, I have despised Thy grace, and deserved to be forever separated from Thee, my greatest good, and to hate Thee forever. I thank Thee for having borne with me when I was at enmity with Thee; what would have become of me, had I then died? But now that Thou hast lengthened my life, grant that it may not be that I may still more displease Thee, but only to love Thee, and to mourn for the offences I have committed against Thee. O my Jesus! from this day forth Thou shalt be my only love, and my only fear will be to offend Thee, and to separate myself from Thee. But if Thou aidest me not, I can do nothing; I hope in Thy blood, that Thou wilt give me help to be all Thine own, O my Redeemer, my love, my all! O Mary, thou great advocate of sinners, help a sinner who recommends himself to thee, and trusts in thee.

If we would be assured of not losing God, let us give ourselves indeed wholly to God. He that does not give himself wholly to God is ever in danger of turning his back upon him, and of losing him; but a soul which resolutely separates itself from everything, and gives itself all to God will no more lose him; because God himself will not allow that a soul that has heartily given itself all unto him should turn its back upon him and perish. Wherefore a great servant of God was wont to say that when we read of the fall of any who had before given tokens of living a holy life, we must consider that such persons had not given themselves all to God.

1Aversio a Deo.


What will be the Joy of the Blessed

Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.1 When the soul enters the kingdom of the blessed, and the barrier which hinders its sight is taken away, it will see openly and without a veil the infinite beauty of God; and this will be the joy of the blessed.

Every object that the soul then will see in God himself will overwhelm it with delight; it will see the rectitude of his judgements, the harmony of his regulations for every soul, all ordained to his divine glory, and its own good.

The soul will especially perceive, in respect to itself, the boundless love which God has entertained towards it in becoming man, and sacrificing his life upon the cross through love of it. Then will it know what an excess of goodness is comprehended in the mystery of the cross, in the sight of a God become a servant, and dying condemned upon an infamous tree; and in the mystery of the Eucharist, in the sight of a God beneath the species of bread, and made the food of his creatures.

In particular the soul will perceive all the graces and favours shown to it, which, until then, had been hidden. It will see all the mercies he has bestowed on it, in waiting for it, and pardoning its ingratitude. It will see the many calls, and lights, and aids that have been granted to it in abundance. It will see that these tribulations, these infirmities, these losses of property or of kindred, which it counted punishments, were not really punishments, but loving arrangements of God for drawing it to the perfect love for him.

In a word, all these things will make the soul know the infinite goodness of its God, and the boundless love which he deserves; whence, so soon as it has reached heaven, it will have no other desire but to behold him in his blessedness and content; and, at the same time, comprehending that the happiness of God is supreme, infinite, and eternal, it will experience a joy that is only not infinite because a creature is not capable of anything that is infinite. It will enjoy, nevertheless, a pleasure that is extreme and full, which fills it with delight, and with that kind of delight that belongs to God himself; and thus will be fulfilled in it the words, Enter thou into the joy of Thy Lord.2

The blessed are not so much blessed through the delight which they experience in themselves as in the joy with which God rejoices; for the blessed love God so infinitely more than themselves that the blessedness of God delights them infinitely more than their own blessedness, through the love which they bear to him; which love makes them forget themselves, and all their delight is to please their Beloved.

And this is that holy and loving inebriation which causes the blessed to lose the memory of themselves, to give themselves wholly to praise and love the dear object of all their love, which is God. They shall be inebriated with the fullness of Thy house.3 Happy from their first entrance into heaven, they continue, as it were, lost, and, so to say, swallowed up in love, in that boundless ocean of the goodness of God.

Wherefore every blessed soul will lose all its desires, and will have no other desire but to love God, and to be loved by him; and knowing that it is sure of ever loving him, and of being ever loved by him, this very thing will be its blessedness, which will fill it with joy, and will make it throughout eternity so satisfied with delight that it will desire nothing more.

In a word, it will be the paradise of the blessed, to rejoice in the joy of God. And thus, he who in this life rejoices in the blessedness that God enjoys, and will enjoy through eternity, can say that even in this life he enters into the joy of God, and begins to enjoy Paradise.

Yet, O my sweet Saviour, and the love of my soul! in this vale of tears I still see myself surrounded by enemies, who would separate me from Thee. O my beloved Lord! suffer me not to perish; make me ever love Thee in this life and in the next life, and then do with me what Thou wilt. O Queen of Paradise! if thou prayest for me, assuredly I shall be with thee eternally, to be in thy company, and to praise thee in Paradise.

1“Intra in gaudium Domini tui.” -- Matt. xxv. 21.

2Intra in gaudium Domini tui.

3“Inebriabuntur ab ubertate domus tuæ, et torrente voluptatis tuæ potabis eos.” -- Ps. xxxv. 9.


Saturday, 13 June 2009

The Affair of Eternal Salvation

The business of our eternal salvation is for us that affair which is not only the most important, but the only thing that ought to trouble us; because, if this goes wrong, all is lost. One thought upon eternity, well weighed, is enough to make a saint. The great servant of God, F. Vincenzo Carafa, was wont to say that if all men thought with a living faith upon the eternity of another life, the world would become a desert, for no one would attend any more to the affairs of this life.

Oh, that all had ever before their eyes the great truth taught us by Jesus Christ! What doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul?1 This truth has taught many a man to leave the world; many noble virgins, and even those of royal blood, to shut themselves up in a cloister; many anchorites to live in deserts, and many martyrs to give their lives for the faith; because they considered that if they lost their souls, all the good things of the world would profit them nothing in the eternal state.

Therefore the Apostle wrote to his disciples: We entreat you, brethren, that ye attend to your own business.2 And of what business did St. Paul speak? He spoke of that business which, if it fail, implies that we lose the eternal kingdom of Paradise, and are cast into an abyss of torments that never end. It is an affair of eternal punishments, and of the loss of the heavenly kingdom, says St. John Chrysostom.3

St. Philip Neri, therefore, had good reason for calling all those persons mad who bestow pains in this life for gaining riches and honors, and give little heed to the salvation of the soul. “All such,” said the venerable John Avila, “deserve to be shut up in an asylum for lunatics.” How can this be? This great servant of God meant to say, “You believe that there is an eternity of joys for those who love God, and an eternity of pains for those who offend him; and do you offend him?”

Every loss of property, of reputation, of relatives, of health, can be repaired in this life, at least by a good death, and by the acquisition of eternal life, as it happened to the holy martyrs; but for what good things of the world, with fortune even the greatest, can be given the loss of the soul? What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?4

He that dies in the wrath of God, and loses his soul, loses with this every hope of repairing his ruin. To the wicked, when he is dead, there is no hope more.5 O God! if the doctrine of eternal life were but a simple, doubtful opinion of divines, we ought surely to give all our care for gaining a happy eternity, and avoiding a miserable one. But no; it is not a doubtful thing; it is certain, it is of faith, that we must come to one or the other.

But what do we see? Every one who has faith, and thinks upon this truth, says, “So it is we must attend to the salvation of the soul;” but few are they who truly give heed to it. They devote themselves with all their energies to win this cause, or to obtain this situation, but lay aside the care of eternal salvation. “Truly, it is the greatest of errors to neglect the business of eternal salvation,”6 said St. Eucherius; it is an error that exceeds all others; for to lose the soul is a mistake without a remedy.

Oh, that they would be wise, and would understand, and consider the last things! Miserable are those learned men who labor at many things, and know not how to take forethought for their souls, that they may obtain a favorable sentence in the day of judgment!

O my Redeemer! Thou hast given Thy blood to purchase my soul, and I have so often lost it, and given it to destruction! I give Thee thanks that Thou hast given me time to recover it, by recovering Thy grace. O my God! would that I had died before I had offended Thee! It comforts me to know that Thou knowest not how to despise a heart that humbles itself and repents of its sins. O Mary, refuge of sinners! help me a sinner, who recommends himself to thee, and trusts in thee.

1“Quid enim prodest homini, si mundum universum lucretur, animæ vero suæ detrimentum patiatur?” -- Matt. xvi. 26.

2“Rogamus autem vos, fratres . . . ut negodum vestrum agatis.” -- 1 Thess. iv. 10.

3“De immortalibus suppliciis, de cœlestis regni amissione, res agitur.” -- In Matt. hom. 25.

4“Quam dabit homo commutationem pro anima sua?” -- Matt. xvi. 26.

5“Mortuo homine impio, non erit ultra spes.” -- Prov. xi. 7.

6“Sane supra omnem errorem est dissimulare negotium salutis suæ.” -- De Contemptu m.


Friday, 12 June 2009

Jesus is the Good Shepherd

Thus spoke he himself: I am the good Shepherd.1 The work of a good shepherd is nothing but this, to guide his flock to good pastures, and to guard them from wolves; but what shepherd, O sweet Redeemer! ever had the mercy, like Thee, to give his life to save his flocks, which flocks are we, to deliver them from the punishment they had deserved?

He Himself hath borne our sins in His own body on the tree, that, being dead to sin, we should live to justice; by whose stripes we were healed.2 To heal us of our sicknesses this good Shepherd took upon himself all our debts, and paid them with his own body, dying with agony upon a cross. It was this excess of love towards us, his sheep, which made St. Ignatius the martyr burn with desire to give his life for Jesus Christ, saying, “My Love is crucified;”3 as he wrote in his letter, saying, “What! has my God been willing to die on a cross for me, and cannot I desire to die for him?” And, in truth, was it a great thing the martyrs did in giving their lives for Jesus Christ, when he died for love of them? Oh, how the death endured for them by Jesus Christ made sweet to them all their torments, stripes, piercing nails, fiery plates of iron, and most tormenting deaths!

But the love of this good Shepherd was not satisfied in giving his life for his sheep; he desires, also, after his death, to leave them his body itself, first sacrificed upon the cross, that it might be the food and pasture of their souls. “The burning love which he bore to us,” says John Chrysostom, “induced him to unite himself and make himself one thing with us.”4

When this good Shepherd sees a sheep lost, what does he not do, what means does he not take, to recover it? and he does not cease to seek it till he finds it. If he lose one of them, he goeth after that which was lost until he finds it.5 And when he has found it, rejoicingly he places it upon his shoulders, that it may be lost no more; and, calling to him his friends and neighbors, i.e., the angels and saints, he invites them to rejoice with him for having found the sheep that was lost. Who, then, will not love with all his affections this good Lord, who shows himself thus loving to sinners who have turned their backs upon him, and destroyed themselves of their own accord?

O my Saviour, worthy of all love, behold at Thy feet a sheep that was lost! I had left Thee, but Thou hast not abandoned me; Thou hast left no means untried to recover me. What would have become of me, if Thou hadst not thought of seeking me? Woe is me! how long a time have I lived far from Thee! Now, through Thy mercy, I trust that I am in Thy grace; and as I first fled from Thee, now I desire nothing but to love Thee, and to live and die embracing Thy feet. But while I live, I am in danger of leaving Thee; oh, bind me, chain me with the bond of Thy holy love, and cease not to seek for me so long as I live on this earth. I have gone astray like a sheep that was lost; oh, seek Thy servant.6 O thou advocate of sinners, obtain for me a holy perseverance.

1“Ego sum Pastor bonus.” -- John, x. 11.

2“Peccata nostra ipse pertulit in corpora suo super lignum, ut, peccatis mortui, justitiæ vivamus; cujus livore sanati estis,” -- 1 Peter ii. 24.

3Amor meus crucifixus est.

4“Semetipsum nobis immiscuit, ut unum quid simus . . . ardenter enim amantium hoc est.” -- Ad pop. Ant. hom. 61.

5“Et si perdiderit unam ex illis . . . vadit ad illam quse perierat, donec inveniat eam.” -- Luke, xv. 4.

6“Erravi sicut ovis quæ periit, quære servum tuum.” -- Ps. cxviii. 176.


Thursday, 11 June 2009

Sermon 29 - Trinity Sunday

The Love of the Three Divine Persons for Man.

“Euntes ergo, docete omnes gentes, baptizantes cos in nomine Patris et Filii et Spirilus Sancti.”

“Going therefore, lead ye all nations, baptizing them in the of the Father, and of the Son. and of the Holy Ghost.” -- Matth. xxviii. 19.

St. Leo has said that the nature of God is, by essence, goodness itself.1 Now goodness naturally diffuses itself.2 And by experience we know that men of a good heart are full of love for all, and desire to share with all the goods which they enjoy. God being infinite goodness, is all love towards us his creatures. Hence St. John calls him pure love--pure charity. God is charity.3 And therefore he ardently desires to make us partakers of his own happiness Faith teaches us how much the Three Divine Persons have done through love to man, and to enrich him with heavenly gifts. In saying to his apostles, Teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,4 Jesus Christ wished that they should not only instruct the Gentiles in the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, but that they should also teach them the love which the adorable Trinity bears to man.

I intend to propose this day for your consideration the love shown to us by the Father in our creation; secondly, the love of the Son in our redemption; and thirdly, the love of the Holy Ghost in our sanctification.


I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore have I drawn thee, taking pity on thee.5 My son, says the Lord, I have loved you for eternity, and, through love for you, I have shown mercy to you by drawing you out of nothing. Hence, beloved Christians, of all those who love you, God has been your first lover. Your parents have been the first to love you on this earth; but they have loved you only after they had known you. But, before you had a being, God loved you. Before your father or mother was born, God loved you; yes, even before the creation of the world, he loved you. And how long before creation has God loved you? Perhaps for a thousand years, or for a thousand ages. It is needless to count years or ages; God loved you from eternity. I hare loved thee with an everlasting love.6 As long as he has been God, he has loved you: as long as he has loved himself, he has loved you. The thought of this love made St. Agnes the Virgin exclaim: “I am prevented by another lover.”7 When creatures asked her heart, she answered: No: I cannot prefer you to my God. He has been the first to love me; it is then but just that he should hold the first place in my affections.

Thus, brethren, God has loved you from eternity, and through pure love he has selected you from among so many men whom he could have created in place of you; but he has left them in their nothingness, and has brought you into existence, and placed you in the world. For the love of you he has made so many other beautiful creatures that they might serve you, and that they might remind you of the love which he has borne to you, and of the gratitude which you owe to him. “Heaven and earth,” says St. Augustine, “and all things tell me to love thee.”8 When the saint beheld the sun, the stars, the mountains, the sea, the rains, they all appeared to him to speak, and to say: Augustine, love God; for he has created us that you might love him. When the Abbé de Rancé, the founder of La Trappe, looked at the hills, the fountains, or flowers, he said that all these creatures reminded him of the love which God had borne him. St. Teresa used to say that these creatures reproached her with her ingratitude to God. Whilst she held a flower or fruit in her hand, St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi used to feel her heart, wounded with divine love, and would say within herself: Then my God has thought from eternity of creating this flower and this fruit that I might love him.

Moreover, seeing us condemned to hell, in punishment of our sins, the Eternal Father, through love for us, has sent his Son on the earth to die on the cross, in order to redeem us from hell, and to bring us with himself into paradise. God so loved the world, as to give His only begotten Son,9 love, which the Apostle calls an excess of love. For His exceeding charity wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sin, has quickened us together in Christ.10

See also the special love which God has shown you in bringing you into life in a Christian country, and in the bosom of the Catholic or true Church. ... Only a few--not even the tenth part of the human race--have the happiness of being born in a country where the true faith reigns; and, among that small number, he has chosen you. Oh, what an invaluable benefit is the gift of faith! How many millions of souls, among infidels and heretics, are deprived of the sacraments, of sermons, of good example, and of the other helps to salvation which we possess in the true Church. And the Lord resolved to bestow on us all these great graces, without any merit on our part, and even with the foreknowledge of our demerits. For when he thought of creating us and of conferring these favors upon us, he foresaw our sins. and the injuries we would commit against him.


Adam, our first father, sins by eating the forbidden apple, and is condemned to eternal death, along with all his posterity. Seeing the whole human race doomed to perdition, God resolved to send a redeemer to save mankind. Who shall come to accomplish their redemption? Perhaps an angel or a seraph. No; the Son of God, the supreme and true God, equal to the Father, offers himself to come on earth, and there to take human flesh, and to die for the salvation of men. O prodigy of divine love! Man, says St. Fulgentius, despises God, and separates himself from God, and through love for him, God comes on earth to seek after rebellious man.11 Since, says St. Augustine, we could not go to the Redeemer, he has deigned to come to us.12 And why has Jesus Christ resolved to come to us? According to the same holy Doctor, it is to convince us of his great love for us. “Christ came, that man might know how much God loves him.”13

Hence the Apostle writes: The goodness and kindness of God our Saviour appeared.14 In the Greek text the words are: “The singular love of God towards men appeared.” In explaining this passage, St. Bernard says, that before God appeared on earth in human flesh, men could not arrive at a knowledge of the divine goodness; therefore the Eternal Word took human nature, that, appearing in the form of man, men might know the goodness of God.15 And what greater love and goodness could the Son of God show to us, than to become man and to become a worm like us, in order to save us from perdition? What astonishment would we not feel, if we saw a prince become a worm to save the worms of his kingdom! And what shall we say at the sight of a God made man like us, to deliver us from eternal death? The word was made flesh.16 A God made flesh! if faith did not assure us of it, who could ever believe it? Behold then, as St. Paul says, a God as it were annihilated. He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant . . . and in habit found as a man.17 By these words the Apostle gives us to understand, that the Son of God, who was filled with the divine majesty and power, humbled himself so as to assume the lowly and impotent condition of human nature, taking the form or nature of a servant, and becoming like men in his external appearance, although, as St. John Chrysostom observes, he was not a mere man, but man and God. Hearing a deacon singing the words of St. John, and the Word was made flesh,18 St. Peter of Alcantara fell into ecstasy, and flew through the air to the altar of the Most Holy Sacrament.

But this God of love, the Incarnate Word, was not content with becoming flesh for the love of man; but, according to Isaias, he wished to live among us, as the last and lowest, and most afflicted of men. There is no beauty in Him, nor comeliness: and we have seen Him . . . despised, and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows.19 He was a man of sorrows. Yes; for the life of Jesus Christ was full of sorrows. He was a man made on purpose to be tormented with sorrows. From his birth till his death, the life of our Redeemer was all full of sorrows.

And because he came on earth to gain our love, as he declared when he said--I am come to cast fire on the earth; and what will I but that it be kindled?20 he wished at the close of his life to give us the strongest marks and proofs of the love which he bears to us. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them unto the end.21 Hence he not only humbled himself to death for us, but he also chose to die the most painful and opprobrious of all deaths. He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even unto the death of the cross.22 They who were crucified among the Jews were objects of malediction and reproach to all. He is accursed of God that hangeth on a tree.23 Our Redeemer wished to die the shameful death of the cross, in the midst of a tempest of ignominies and sorrows. I am come into the depths of the sea, and a tempest hath overwhelmed Me.24

In this, says St. John, we have known the charity of God, because He hath laid down His life for us.25 And how could God give us a greater proof of his love than by laying down his life for us? Or, how is it possible for us to behold a God dead on the cross for our sake, and not love him? For the charity of Christ presseth us.26 By these words St. Paul tells us, that it is not so much what Jesus Christ has done and suffered for our salvation, as the love which he has shown in suffering and dying for us, that obliges and compels us to love him. He has, as the same Apostle adds, died for all, that each of us may live no longer for himself, but only for that God who has given his life for the love of us. Christ died for all, that they also who live, may not live to themselves, but unto Him who died for them and rose again.27 And, to captivate our love, he has, after having given his life for us, left himself for the food of our souls. Take ye and eat: this is My body.28 Had not faith taught that he left himself for our food, who could ever believe it? But of the prodigy of divine love manifested in the holy sacrament, I shall speak on the second Sunday after Pentecost. Let us pass to a brief consideration of the third point.


The Eternal Father was not content with giving us his Son Jesus Christ, that he might save us by his death; he has also given us the Holv Ghost, that he may dwell in our souls, and that he may keep them always inflamed with holy love. In spite of all the injuries which he received on earth from men, Jesus Christ, forgetful of their ingratitude, after having ascended into heaven, sent us the Holy Ghost, that, by his holy flames, this divine Spirit might kindle in our hearts the fire of divine charity, and sanctify our souls. Hence, when he descended on the apostles, he appeared in the form of tongues of fire. And there appeared to them parted tongues, as it were of fire.29 Hence the Church prescribes the following prayer: “We beseech Thee, O Lord, that the Spirit may inflame us with that fire which the Lord Jesus Christ sent on the earth, and vehemently wished to be enkindled.”30 This is the holy fire which inflamed the saints with the desire of doing great, things for God, which enabled them to love their most cruel enemies, to seek after contempt, to renounce all the riches and honors of the world, and even to embrace with joy torments and death.

The Holy Ghost is that divine bond which unites the Father with the Son: it is he that unites our souls, through love, with God. For, as St. Augustine says, an union with God is the effect of love. “Charity is a virtue which unites us with God.”31 The chains of the world are chains of death, but the bonds of the Holy Ghost are bonds of eternal life, because they bind us to God, who is our true and only life.

Let us also remember that all the lights, inspirations, divine calls, all the good acts which we have performed during our life, all our acts of contrition, of confidence in the divine mercy, of love, of resignation, have been the gifts of the Holy Ghost. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit Himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings.32 Thus, it is the Holy Ghost that prays for us; for we know not what we ought to ask, but the Holy Spirit teaches us what we should pray for.

In a word, the Three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity have endeavored to show the love which God has borne us, that we may love him through gratitude. “When,” says St. Bernard, “God loves, he wishes only to be loved.”33 It is, then, but just that we love that God who has been the first to love us, and to put us under so many obligations by so many proofs of tender love. Let us, therefore love God, because God first hath loved us.34 Oh, what a treasure is charity! it is an infinite treasure, because it makes us partakers of the friendship of God. She is an infinite treasure to men, which they that use become the friends of God.35 But, to acquire this treasure, it is necessary to detach the heart from earthly things. “Detach the heart from creatures,” says St. Teresa, “and you shall find God.” In a heart filled with earthly affections, there is no room for divine love. Let us therefore continually implore the Lord in our prayers, communions, and visits to the blessed sacrament, to give us his holy love; for this love will expel from our souls all affections for the things of this earth. “When,” says St. Francis de Sales, “a house is on fire, all that is within is thrown out through the windows.” By these words the saint meant, that when a soul is inflamed with divine love, she easily detaches herself from creatures: and Father Paul Segneri, the younger, used to say, that divine love is a thief that robs us of all earthly affections, and makes us exclaim: “What, O my Lord, but thee alone, do I desire?”

Love is strong as death.36 As no creature can resist death when the hour of dissolution arrives, so there is no difficulty which love, in a soul that loves God, does not overcome. When there is question of pleasing her beloved, love conquers all things: it conquers pains, losses, ignominies.37 This love made the martyrs, in the midst of torments, racks, and burning gridirons, rejoice, and thank God tor enabling them to suffer for him; it made the other saints, when there was no tyrant to torment them, become, as it were, their own executioners, by fasts, disciplines, and penitential austerities. St. Augustine says, that in doing what one loves there is no labor, and if there be, the labor itself is loved.38

1“Deus, cujus natura bonitas.” -- De Nat. D. s. 2.

2“Bonum est sui diffusivum.”

3“Deus charitas est.” -- 1 John, iv. 8.

4“Docete omnes gentes, baptizantes eos in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti.”

5“In charitate perpetua dilexi te: ideo attraxi te, miserans.” -- Jer. xxxi. 3.

6“In charitate perpetua dilexi te.”

7“Ab alio amatore præventa sum.”

8“Cœlum et terra et omnia mihi dicunt ut te amem.” -- Conf. l. 10, c. 6.

9“Sic enim Deus dilexit mundum, ut filium suum unigenitum daret.” -- John, iii. 16.

10“Propter nimiam charitatem suam, qua dilexit nos, et eum essemus mortui peccatis, convivificavit nos in Christo.” -- Ephes. ii. 4.

11“Homo, Deum contemnens, a Deo discessit: Deus, hominem diligens, ad homines venit.” -- S. de Dupl. Nat. Chr.

12“Quia ad Medicum venire non poteramus, ipse ad nos venire dignatus est.” -- Serm. SS. E. B.

13“Propterea Christus advenit, ut cognosceret homo quantum eum diligat Deus.” -- De catech. rud. c. 4.

14“Benignitas et humanitas apparuit Salvatoris nostri Dei.” -- Tit. iii. 4.

15“Priusquam appareret humanitas, latebat benignitas; sed unde tanta agnosci poterat? Venit in carne, ut, apparente humanitate, benignitas agnosceretur.” -- In Epiph. s. 1.

16“Verbum caro factum.” -- John, i, 14.

17“Semetipsum exinanivit, formam servi accipiens, in similitudinem hominum factus, et habitu inventus ut homo.” -- Phil. ii. 7.

18“Et verbum caro factum est.” -- John, i. 14.

19“Non est ei species, neque decor; et vidimus eum . . . despectum, et novissimum virorum, virum dolosum.” -- Is. liii. 2.

20“Ignem veni mittere in terram; et quid volo, nisi ut accendatur?” -- Luke, xii. 49.

21“Cum dilexisset suos qui erant in mundo, in finem dilexit eos.” -- John. xxxi. 1.

22“Humiliavit semetipsum, factus obediens usque ad mortem, mortem outem crucis.” -- Phil. ii. 8.

23“Maledictus omnis qui pendet in ligno.” -- Gal. iii. 13.

24“Veni in altitudinem maris, et tempestas demersit me.” -- Ps. lxviii. 3.

25“In hoc cognovimus charitatem Dei, quoniam ille animam suam pro nobis posuit.” -- 1 John, iii. 16.

26“Charitas enim Christi urget nos.” -- 2 Cor. v. 14.

27“Pro nobis omnibus mortuus est Christus, ut et qui vivunt, jam non sibi vivant, sed ei qui pro ipsis mortuus est.”

28“Accipite et comedite; hoc est corpus meum.” -- Matth. xxvi. 26.

29“Et apparuerunt illis dispertitæ linguæ tamquam ignis.” -- Acts, ii. 3.

30“Illo nos igne, quæsumus, Domine, Spiritus Sanctus inflammet, quem dominus Noster Jesus Christus misit in terram, et voluit vehementer accendi.” -- In Sabb. Pent.

31“Charitas est virtus conjuugens nos Deo.”

32“Similiter autem et Spiritus adjuvat infirmitatem nostram; nam, quid oremus, sicut oportet, nescimus; sed ipse Spiritus postulat pro nobis gemitibus inenarrabilibus.” -- Rom. viii. 26.

33“Cum amat Deus, non aliud vult, quam amari.” -- In Cant. s. 83.

34“Nos ergo diligamus Deum, quoniam Deus prior dilexit nos.” -- 1 John, iv. 19.

35“Infinitus enim thesaurus est hominibus, quo qui usi sunt, participes facti sunt amicitæ Dei.” -- Wisd. vii. 14.

36“Fortis est ut mors dilectio.” -- Cant. viii. 6.

37“Nihil tam durum, quod amoris igne non vincatur.” -- De Mor. Eccl. Cath. c. 22.

38“In eo quod amatur, aut non laboratur, aut et labor amatur.” -- De Bono vid. c. 21.


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