Friday, 25 June 2010

Preparation for Death - Consideration XXI

Unhappy Life of the Sinner: and Happy Life of him who loves God.
“There is no peace to the wicked, saith the Lord.” – Isa. xiviii. 22.
“Much peace have they that love Thy law.” – Ps. cxviii. 165.
The World cannot make us Happy.
In this life all men seek after peace. The merchant, the soldier, the man who goes to law, labor with the hope of making a fortune, and of thus finding peace, by worldly fortune, by a more exalted post, by gaining a lawsuit. But poor worldlings seek from the world that peace which the world cannot give. God alone can give us peace. The holy Church prays in the following words: “Give to Thy servants that peace which the world cannot give.”1 No; the world with all its goods cannot content the heart of man: for he was created not for them, but for God alone; hence God alone can make him happy and content. Brute animals, that have been made for sensual delights, find peace in earthly goods. Give to an ox a bundle of hay, and to a dog a piece of flesh, and they are content, they desire nothing more. But the soul that has been created for no other end than to love God, and to live in union with him, will never be able to find peace or happiness in sensual enjoyments: God alone can make it perfectly content.
The Son of God gave the appellation of fool to the rich man who, after having reaped a rich harvest from his fields, said to himself: Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thy rest, eat, drink, and make good cheer.2 “Miserable fool!” says St. Basil, have you the soul of a swine, of a brute, that you expect to make it happy by eating, drinking, or by sensual delights?”3 A man may be puffed up, but he cannot be satisfied by the goods of this world. On the words of the Gospel, behold we have left all things.4 St. Bernard writes, that he saw different classes of fools laboring under different species of folly. All had a great thirst for happiness: some were satiated with the goods of the earth, which is a figure of the avaricious; others with wind, the figure of the ambitious, who seek after empty honors: others seated round a furnace, swallowing the sparks that were thrown from it; these were the passionate and vindictive: others, in fine, drank putrid waters from a fetid lake: and these were the voluptuous and unchaste. Hence, turning to them, the saint exclaims: O fools! do you not see that these things increase, rather than diminish your thirst! The goods of the world are but apparent goods, and therefore they cannot satisfy the heart of man. You have eaten, says the Prophet Aggeus, but have not had enough.5 Hence, the more the avaricious man possesses, the more he seeks to acquire. “The possession of great wealth,” says St. Augustine, “does not close, but rather extends, the jaws of avarice.”6 The more the unchaste man wallows in the mire of impurity, the greater is his disgust, and, at the same time, his desire for such beastly pleasures; and how can dung and carnal filthiness content the heart? The same happens to the ambitious man, who wishes to satisfy his desires by smoke; for he always attends more to what he wants than to what he possesses. After having acquired many kingdoms, Alexander the Great wept, because he had not dominion over other countries. If worldly goods could content the human heart, the rich and the monarchs of the earth would enjoy complete happiness; but experience shows the contrary. Solomon tells us that he refused no indulgence to his senses. Whatsoever my eyes desired, I refused them not.7 But after all his sensual enjoyments what did he say? Vanity of vanities, and all is vanity.8 That is, everything in this world is mere vanity, a pure lie, pure folly.
Affections and Prayers.
Ah, my God! what now remains of all the offences I have offered to Thee, but pain, bitterness, and merits for hell? I am not sorry for the pain and remorse which I now feel; on the contrary, they console me, because they are the gift of Thy grace, and make me hope that, since Thou inspirest these sentiments, Thou wishest to pardon me. What displeases me is the pain I have given Thee, my Redeemer, who loved me so tenderly. I deserved, O my Lord! to be abandoned by Thee; but, instead of abandoning me, I see that Thou offerest me pardon, and that Thou art the first to ask for a reconciliation. O my Jesus! I wish to make peace with Thee, and desire Thy grace more than every earthly good. I am sorry, O infinite Goodness! for having offended Thee: I would wish to die of sorrow for my offences. Ah! through the love which Thou didst entertain for me when Thou didst expire on the cross, pardon me, receive me into Thy heart, and change my heart, so that henceforth I may please Thee as much as I have hitherto offended Thee. I now renounce, for Thy sake, all the pleasures that the world can give me, and I resolve to forfeit my life rather than lose Thy grace. Tell me what I must do in order to please Thee; I wish to do it. What pleasures, what honors, what riches can I seek? I wish only for Thee, my God, my joy, my glory, my treasure, my life, my love, my all. Give me, O Lord! strength to be faithful to Thee. Give me the grace to love Thee, and then do with me what Thou pleasest. Mary, my Mother and my hope! take me under Thy protection, and obtain for me the grace to belong entirely to God.
Interior Torments of the Sinner.
But, according to Solomon, the goods of this world not only do not content the heart, but they are even a source of pain and affliction of spirit. And behold all is vanity and affliction of spirit.9 Poor sinners! they seek for happiness in their sins, but they find nothing but bitterness and remorse. Destruction and happiness in their way; and the way of peace they have not known.10 What peace? What peace? There is no peace to the wicked, saith the Lord.11 In the first place, sin brings with it a dread of divine vengeance. The man that is beset with powerful enemies neither eats nor sleeps in peace. And can he who has God for his enemy enjoy repose? Fear to them that work evil.12 When the man who is in the state of sin hears the roaring of thunder; oh! how does he tremble! Every leaf that moves excites terror. The sound of dread is always in his ears.13 He is always flying away though no one pursues him. The wicked man fleeth when no man pursueth.14 He is pursued by his on sin. After having killed his brother Abel, Cain said: Every one therefore that findeth me, shall kill me.15 God assured him that no one should injure him. And the Lord said to him: No; it shall not be so.16 But, notwithstanding this assurance, Scripture tells us that Cain dwelt a fugitive on the earth.17 He was always flying from one place to another. And who, but his own sin, was the persecutor of Cain?
Sin also brings with it remorse of conscience, that cruel worm which unceasingly gnaws the soul. If the miserable sinner go to a festivity, to a comedy, to a place of amusement, his conscience will say to him, you are the enemy of God: should you die in your sin, where will you go? The torture of remorse of conscience is so great even in this life, that to free themselves from it, some have committed suicide. It is related of a certain man, who had killed an infant, that, in order to get rid of the stings of remorse, he entered into a monastery; but finding no peace even there, he went before a judge, confessed his crime, and was condemned to death.
What is a soul without God? The Holy Ghost compares it to a sea agitated by the tempest. The wicked are like the raging sea, which cannot rest.18 Were a person brought to a musical exhibition, or to a ball, and obliged to remain suspended by a cord, with his head downward, could he enjoy the entertainment? Such is the state of a man who lives in the enjoyment of worldly goods, but without God: his soul is as it were turned upside down. He may eat and drink and dance, he may wear costly apparel, and may acquire honors, dignities, and possessions; but he never will have peace. There is no peace to the wicked.19 God alone imparts peace; but he gives it to his friends, not to his enemies.
“The goods of this earth,” says St. Vincent Ferrer, “do not enter the soul. They are waters which do not penetrate where there is thirst.’20 The sinner may wear embroidered robes and the richest jewels, he may indulge the palate as much as he pleases; but his poor soul will be full of thorns and gall; and therefore with all his riches, pleasures, and amusements, you will see him always unhappy and ready to fly into a rage and fury at every contradiction. He who loves God resigns himself to the divine will in adversity, and enjoys peace; but he who lives in opposition to the divine will, cannot conform to it, and therefore he has no means of tranquillizing the soul. The miserable man serves the devil, he serves a tyrant who repays him with gall and bitterness. Ah! the word of God can never fail. Because thou didst not serve the Lord thy God with joy and gladness, thou shalt serve the enemy in hunger, and thirst, and nakedness, and in want of all things.21 What do not the vindictive suffer after they have gratified their resentment? the unchaste, after they have attained their wicked object? What do not the ambitious, the avaricious, endure? Oh, how many are there, who, if they suffer for God as much as they suffer to bring themselves to their own damnation, would become great saints?
Affections and Prayers.
O my lost life! O my God if to serve Thee I had suffered the pains which I have endured in order to offend Thee, how many merits should I now find treasured up for Paradise! Ah, my Lord! for what have I abandoned Thee, and lost Thy grace? For poisoned and momentary pleasures, which, as soon as they were indulged, disappeared, and left my soul full of thorns and bitterness. Ah, my sins, I detest you, I curse you a thousand times. I bless Thy mercy, O my God! which has borne with me so patiently. I love Thee, O my Creator and Redeemer! who hast given Thy life for me; and because I love Thee, I am sorry with my whole heart for having offended Thee. My God, my God! why have I lost Thee? for what have I exchanged Thee? I now know the evil I have done; and I resolve to lose everything, even life, rather than lose Thy love. Give me light, O Eternal Father! for the sake of Jesus Christ: make known to me Thy greatness, and the nothingness of the goods which the devils present to me in order to make me lose Thy grace. I love Thee but I desire to love Thee with greater ardor. Grant that Thou alone may be my only thought, my only desire, my only love. I hope for all from Thy goodness, through the merits of Thy Son. Mary, my Mother! through the love which thou bearest to Jesus Christ, I entreat thee to obtain for me light and strength to serve him and to love him till death.
Happiness of the Just on Earth.
Then all the goods and delights of this world cannot content the human heart. Who can satisfy all its desires? God alone. Delight in the Lord and He will give thee the requests of thy heart.22 The heart of man is always in search of goods that will make him happy. He enjoys riches, pleasures, honors, and he is not content; for these are finite goods, and he was created for an infinite good. But, let him seek God, let him unite himself to God, and behold he is content, all his desires are satiated. Delight in the Lord and He will give thee the requests of thy heart.23 During all the time which St Augustine spent in sensual delights, he never found peace. This he afterward confessed when he gave himself to God. “Our heart is restless till it rests in thee.”24 My God I know that all is vanity and affliction, and that Thou alone art the true peace of the soul. “All things are hard, and thou alone repose.”25 Hence he afterward wrote: “What do you seek, O miserable man? seek one good, in which are all goods.”26 While he was in sin, David went to his gardens, and indulged in the pleasures of the table and all other royal entertainments; but the table, the gardens, and the creatures in which he took delight, said to him: David, do you expect that we shall make you happy? it is not in our power to content your heart. Where is your God? Go and find your God; he alone can satisfy the cravings of your soul. Hence, in the midst of all his enjoyments, David wept continually. My tears have been my bread day and night, while it is said to me daily: Where is thy God?27
But, oh! how content and happy does God make the faithful souls that love him! After having left all for God, without shoes, almost naked, and dead from cold and hunger, St. Francis, of Assisi enjoyed a paradise in saying “My God. and my all.” After he had become a religious, St. Francis Borgia was Obliged; in travelling, often to lie on a bed of straw; but so abundant were the consolations which he experienced, that he could not sleep. When St. Philip Neri left all things, he used, after going to rest, to receive so much consolation from God, that he would say: O my Jesus, allow me to sleep. Father Charles of Lorraine, who was descended from the princes of Lorraine, and entered the Society of Jesus, began sometimes to dance through joy in his poor cell. In the plains of India, St. Francis Xavier would uncover his breast and exclaim: “Enough, O Lord.” No more consolation: my heart can bear no more. St. Teresa used to say that a single drop of heavenly consolation gives more content than all the pleasures and amusements of the world can give. Ah! God cannot but fulfil his promises to give peace and happiness to all who renounce worldly goods for his sake. And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, for My name’s sake, shall receive an hundred fold, and shall possess life everlasting.28
What then do we seek after? Let us go to Jesus Christ, who calls us, saying: Come to Me, all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you.29 Ah! the soul that loves God enjoys that peace which surpasses all the pleasures and gratifications which the world and the senses can give. It is true that in this life, even the saints have to submit to pains and crosses: for this earth is a place of merit, and it is impossible to merit without suffering. But, according to St. Bonaventure, divine love, like honey, renders things the most bitter, sweet and amiable: He that loves God, loves the will of God, and therefore he rejoices in sorrows, because in embracing them he knows that he gives delight and pleasure to his God. “We see the cross,” says St. Bernard, “but not the unction.”30 We behold only the mortifications which the lovers of God endure, and the pleasures from which they abstain; but we do not see the spiritual delights with which the Lord consoles them. Oh! if sinners tasted the peace enjoyed by a soul that wishes for nothing but God! O, taste and see, says David, that the Lord is sweet.31 My brother, begin to make meditation every day, to communicate frequently, to converse with God; and you will find that during the short time which you spend with him, he will give you greater consolation than the world, with all its amusements, has ever given you. O, taste and see! He who has not tasted, cannot understand how God contents the soul that loves him.
Affections and Prayers.
My dear Redeemer! how have I been hitherto so blind as to abandon Thee, who art an infinite good, and the fountain of all consolation, for the miserable and momentary gratification of the senses? I am astonished at my blindness, but I am still more astonished at Thy mercy, which has so bountifully borne with me. I thank Thee for making me now sensible of thy folly, and of my obligation to love Thee. I love Thee, O my Jesus! with my whole soul, but I desire to love Thee with greater fervor. Increase my desire and my love. Enamor my soul of Thee. who art infinitely amiable—of Thee; who hast left nothing undone to gain my love; of Thee, who so ardently desirest my love. If Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.32 Ah, my dear Redeemer, purify my heart from all impure affections, which hinder me to love Thee as I would wish! It is not in my Power to inflame my Whole heart with the love Of Thee, and to make it love nothing but Thee. This requires the power of Thy grace, which can do all things. Detach me from every creature, banish from my soul every affection that is not for Thee, make me all Thine. I am sorry above all things for all the displeasure I have given Thee. I resolve to consecrate all the days of my life to Thy holy love; but it is only Thy grace that can make me fulfil this resolution. Grant me, O Lord, this grace for the sake of the blood which Thou didst shed for me with so much pain, and so Much love. Let it be the glory of Thy power to make my heart, which was once full of earthly affections, now become all flames of love for Thee, O infinite Good! O mother of fair love, O Mary! by thy prayers make my whole soul burn, as thine did, with the charity of God.

1Da servis tuis illam, quam mundus dare non potest, pacem.
2“Anima, habes multa bona posita in annos plurimos; requiesce, comede, bibe.” – Luke, xii. 19.
3Numquid animam porcinam habes?
4“Ecce nos reliquimus omnia.” – Matt. xix. 27.
5“Comedistis, et non estis satiati.” – Agg. i. 6.
6“Major pecunia avaritim fauces non claudit sed extendit.” – Serm. 50, E. B.
7“Et omnia quæ desideraverunt oculi mei, non negavi eis.” – Eccles. ii. 10.
8“Vanitas vanitatum, et omnia vanitas.” – Ibid. i. 2.
9“Ecce universa vanitas, et afflictio spiritus.” – Eccles. i. 14.
10“Contritio et infelicitas in viis eorum, et viam pacis non cognoverunt.” – Ps. xiii. 3.
11“Non est pax impiis.” – Isa. xlviii. 22.
12“Pavor iis qui operantur malum.” – Prov. x. 29.
13“Sonitus terroris semper in auribus illius.” – Job, xv. 21.
14“Fugit impius, nemine persequente.” – Prov. xxviii. 1.
15“Omnis igitur qui invenerit me, occidet me.” – Gen. iv. 14.
16“Dixitque ei Dominus: Nequaquam ita fiet.” – Ibid. ver. 15.
17“Habitavit profugus in terra.” – Ibid.
18“Impii autem quasi mare fervens, quad quiescere non potest.” – Isai. lvii. 20
19Non est pax impiis.
20Sunt aquæ, quæ non intrant illuc, ubi est sitis.
21“Eo quod non servieris Domino Deo tuo in gaudio . . . servies inimico tuo . . . in fame, et siti, et nuditate, et omni penuria.” – Deut. xxviii. 47, 48.
22“Delectare in Domino, et dabit tibi petitiones cordis tui.” – Ps. xxxvi. 4.
24“Inquietum est cor nostrum, donec requiescat in te.” – Conf: l. 1. c. 1.
25“Dura sunt omnia, et tu solus requies.” – Conf. l. 6. c. 16.
26“Cur per multa vagaris, homuncio, quærendo bona? Ama unum bonum, in quo sunt omnia bona “ – Manual. c. 34.
27“Fuerunt mihi lacrymæ meæ panes die ac nocte, dum dicitur mihi quotidie. Ubi est Deus tuus? “ – Ps. xli. 4.
28“Qui reliquerit domum, vel fratres . . . propter nomen meum centuplum accipiet, et vitam æternam possidebit.” – Matt. xix. 29.
29“Venite ad me omnes, qui laboratis et onerati estis, et ego reficiam vos.” – Matt. xi. 28.
30“Crucem videntes, sed non etiam unctionem.” – In Dedic. Eccl. s. 1.
31“Gustate, et videte quoniam suavis est Dominus.” – Ps. xxxiii. 9.
32“Si viS, potes me mundare.” – Matt. viii. 2,


Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Preparation for Death - Consideration XX

The Folly of the Sinner.
“For the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God.” – 1 Cor. 111. 19.
The Large Number of Fools.
The Venerable John Avila would have divided the world into two prisons, one for the incredulous, the other for Christians who live in sin at a distance from God. The prison of the latter he would have called the prison of fools. But the greatest misery and misfortune is, that these miserable men esteem themselves wise and prudent, though they are the most foolish and imprudent of mortals. And unfortunately they are exceedingly numerous. The number of fools is infinite.1 Some are foolish through love of honors; some for the sake of pleasures; and others from attachment to the miserable goods of this earth. And great as their folly is, they have the temerity to call the saints fools, because they despise the goods of this life in order to gain eternal salvation and the possession of God, who is the true and supreme good. They deem it folly to embrace contempt, and to pardon injuries; folly to abstain from sensual pleasures, and to practise mortification; folly to renounce honors and riches, to love solitude and an humble and hidden life. But they never reflect that the Lord has called their wisdom folly. For, says the apostle, the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God.2
Ah! they will one day confess their folly; but when? When there will be no remedy for it. They will then say in despair: We fools esteemed their life madness and their end without honor.3 Ah! fools that we have been! we regarded the lives of the saints as folly; but now we know that we have been miserably foolish. Behold how they are numbered among the children of God, and their lot among the saints.4 Behold how they have obtained a place among the happy number of the children of God, and have secured their lot among the saints—an eternal lot, which will make them happy for eternity; and we are among the number of the slaves of the devil, condemned to burn in this pit of torments for all eternity. Therefore we have erred, thus they shall conclude their lamentation, from the way of truth, and the light of justice hath not shined unto us.5 Then we have erred by shutting our eyes to God’s light; and what renders our condition still more forlorn is, that for our error there is no remedy, and there will be none as long as God will be God.
How great then the folly of sinners, who, for a worthless gain, for a little smoke, for a transient delight, lose the grace of God! What would not a vassal do in order to gain the favor of his sovereign? O God! for a miserable gratification, to lose God, the supreme Good! to lose paradise! to forfeit peace in this life, by bringing into the soul the monster sin, which, by its remorse, will torture it unceasingly! and to condemn yourself voluntarily to everlasting woe! Would you indulge in that forbidden pleasure if, in punishment, your hand was to be burned? or if you were to be shut up for a year in a grave? Would you commit that sin, if after consenting to it, you should forfeit a hundred crowns? And still you believe and know that in yielding to sin, you lose heaven and God, and that you are condemned to eternal fire: and after all you transgress the divine law.
Affections and Prayers.
O God of my soul! what should be my lot at this moment, if Thou hadst not shown me so many mercies? I should be in hell among the number of the foolish to which I have belonged. I thank Thee, O my Lord! and I entreat Thee not to abandon me in my blindness. I feel that Thou tenderly callest and invitest me to ask pardon, and to hope for great graces from Thee, after the insults I have offered to Thee. Yes, my Saviour! I hope Thou wilt admit me among Thy children: I am not worthy to be called Thy child, after having so often insulted Thee to Thy face. Father, I am not worthy to be called Thy child: I have sinned against heaven and before thee.6 But I know that Thou goest in search of the strayed sheep, and that Thou feelest consolation in embracing Thy lost children. My dear Father! I am sorry for having offended Thee. I cast myself at Thy feet, and embrace them; I will not depart till Thou pardon and bless me.
I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me.7 Bless me, O my Father! and let the fruit of Thy benediction be: a great sorrow for my sins, and a great love for Thee. I love Thee, O my Father! I love Thee with my whole heart. Do not permit me ever more to depart from Thee. Deprive me of all; but do not strip me of Thy love. O Mary! If God is My Father, thou art my Mother. Do thou also bless me. I do not deserve to be thy son: accept me for thy servant; but make Me a servant who will always love thee tenderly and always confide in thy protection.
Great Folly.
Poor sinners! they labor and toil for the attainment of worldly sciences, or the art of gaining the goods of this life, which will soon end, and neglect the goods of the next life, which is everlasting! They lose their reason to such a degree, that they become not only fools, but senseless beasts; for, living like brute animals, they attend not to what is lawful or unlawful, but only follow the beastly instincts of the senses, and embrace what is pleasing to the flesh, without ever reflecting on what they lose, or on the eternal ruin which they bring upon themselves. To live in this manner is, to act not like a man, but like a senseless beast. St. John Chrysostom says: “We call him a man who preserves intact the image of man; but what is this image of man: To be rational.”8 To be a man is, to be rational—that is, to act according to reason, and not according to the sensual appetite. Were beasts to receive from God the use of reason, and to act according to its dictates, we should say that they acted like men; and, on the other hand, when a man follows the impulse of the senses in opposition to reason, it must be said he acts like a beast.
O that they would be wise, and would understand, and would provide for their last end.9 He who acts according to the rules of prudence, looks to the future—that is, to what must happen at the end of life—to death and judgment, and after judgment, hell or heaven. Oh! how much wiser is the peasant who saves his soul, than the monarch who brings himself to hell. Better is a child who is poor and wise, than a king that is old and foolish, who knoweth not to foresee hereafter.10 O God! would not all pronounce the man to be a fool, who, in order to gain a shilling, would risk his entire property? And will he not be considered foolish, who, for a momentary gratification, forfeits the grace of God, and exposes his soul to the danger of eternal perdition? The care of present, and the total neglect of eternal goods and evils, is the ruin of the immense multitude of the damned.
God has certainly not placed us in this world to become rich, or acquire honors, or to indulge our senses, but to gain eternal life. But the end life everlasting.11 And nothing but the attainment of this end is of importance to us. One thing is necessary.12 But there is nothing that sinners despise more than this end: they think only of the present; they each day walk toward death, and approach the gate of eternity, but know not whither they are going. “What would you think,” says St. Augustine, “of a pilot, who, when asked where he is going should answer, that he did not know? Would not all exclaim, that he is bringing the ship to ruin? Such,” adds the saint, “is the man who runs out of the Way.”13 Such are the wise of the world, who know how to acquire wealth, to indulge in amusements, to gain posts of honor and emolument, but know not how to save their souls. The rich glutton knew how to lay up wealth; but he died, and was buried in hell.14 Alexander the Great knew how to acquire many kingdoms; but in a few years he died, and was lost forever. Henry VIII. knew how to preserve his throne by rebelling against the Church; but seeing at death that he lost his soul, he exclaimed: We have lost all. How many miserable sinners now weep and cry out in hell: What hath pride profited us? or what advantage hath the boasting of riches brought us? all those things are passed away like a shadow.15 Behold, they exclaim, for us all the goods of the world have passed away like a shadow, and nothing remains but eternal wailing and everlasting torments.
Before man is life and death, that which he shall choose shall be given him.16 Beloved Christian, God places before you in this world, life and death—that is, the voluntary privation of forbidden pleasure, by which you will gain eternal life; or the indulgence of them, by which you merit everlasting death. What do you say? What choice do you make? In making the choice, act like a man, and not like a senseless beast. Act like a Christian who believes in the Gospel and says: What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul?17
Affections and Prayers.
Ah, my God! Thou hast given me reason, Thou hast given me the light of faith, and I have acted like a senseless beast, by losing Thy grace for the miserable pleasure of the senses, which have passed away like air and now I find nothing but remorse of conscience, and debts to Thy divine justice. Enter not into judgment with Thy servant.18 Ah, Lord! judge me not according to my merits, but treat me according to Thy mercy. Give me light, give me sorrow for the offences that I have committed against Thee, and pardon me. “I have gone astray like a sheep that is lost: seek thy servant.” I am a lost sheep: and unless Thou seek after me, I shall be lost forever. Have pity on me for the sake of that blood which Thou hast shed for me. I am sorry, O Sovereign Good! for having left Thee, and for having voluntarily renounced Thy grace. I would wish to die of sorrow, but give me an increase of sorrow. Bring me to heaven that there I may sing Thy mercies. Mary; my Mother! thou art my refuge; pray to Jesus for me: beg of him to grant me pardon and holy perseverance.
True Wisdom.
Let us be persuaded that the truly wise are they who know how to acquire the divine grace, and the kingdom of heaven; and let us incessantly implore the Lord to give us the science of the saints, which he gives to all who ask it from him.19 Oh! what a precious science to know how to love God, and to save our souls! This Science consists in knowing how to walk in the way of salvation, and to adopt the means of attaining eternal life. The affair of salvation is of all affairs the most necessary. If we know all things, and know not how to save our souls, our knowledge will be unprofitable to us, and we shall be forever miserable: but on the other hand; though we should be ignorant of all things, we shall be happy for eternity, if we know how to love God. “Blessed is the man,” says St. Augustine, “who knows Thee though he be ignorant of other things.”20 One day, Brother Giles said to St. Bonaventure: Happy you, Father Bonaventure, who are so learned. I am a poor, ignorant man, who knows nothing. You can become more holy than I can. “Listen,” replied the saint: “If an ignorant old woman love God more than I do, she shall be more holy than I am.” On hearing this, Brother Giles began to exclaim: O poor old woman! poor old woman! listen, listen: if you love God, you can become more holy than Father Bonaventure.
“The unlearned rise up,” says St.. Augustine: “and bear away the kingdom of heaven.”21 How many rude and illiterate Christians, who, though unable to read, know how to love God and are saved! And how many of the learned of this world are damned! But the former, not the latter, are truly wise. Oh! how truly wise were St. Paschal, St. Felix the Capuchin, St. John of God, though unacquainted with human sciences! Oh! how truly wise were so many holy men, who, abandoning the world, shut themselves up in the cloister, or spent their lives in the desert! How truly wise were St. Benedict, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Louis of Toulouse, who renounced the throne! Oh! how truly wise were so many martyrs, so many tender virgins, who refused the hand of princes, and suffered death for the sake of Jesus Christ! That true wisdom consists in despising the goods of this life, and in securing a happy eternity, even worldlings know and believe: hence of persons who give themselves to God, they say: Happy they, who are truly wise, and save their souls! In fine, they who renounce the goods of the world to give themselves to God, are said to be undeceived. What then should we call those who abandon God for worldly goods? We should call them deluded men.
Brother, to what class do you wish to belong? In order to make a good choice, St. Chrysostom tells you to visit the sepulchres of the dead.22 The grave is the school in which we may see the vanity of earthly goods, and in which we may learn the science of the saints. “Tell me,” says St. Chrysostom, “are you able there to discover who has been a prince, a noble, or a man of learning? For my part,” adds the saint, “I see nothing but rottenness, worms, and bones. All is but a dream, a shadow.”23 Everything in this world will soon have an end, and will vanish like a dream or a shadow. But, dearly beloved Christians, if you wish to be truly wise, it is not enough to know your end, it is necessary to adopt the means of attaining it. All would wish to be saved and to be saints; but because they do not employ the means, they never acquire sanctity, and are lost. It is necessary to fly from the occasions of sin, to frequent the sacraments, to practise mental prayer, and above all, to impress on the heart the following maxims of the Gospel: What doth it profit a Man if he gain the whole world?24 He that loveth his life, shall lose it.25 That is, we must even forfeit our life in order to save the soul. If any man will come after me, let him deny himself.26 To follow Jesus Christ it is necessary to refuse to self-love the pleasures which it seeks. Life is His good will.27 Our salvation consists in doing the will of God. These, and other similar maxims, should be deeply impressed on the soul.
Affections and Prayers.
O Father of mercies! behold my miseries, and have pity on me; give me light, make me sensible of my past folly, that I may bewail it; and make known to me Thy infinite goodness, that I may love it. My Jesus! do not deliver up to beasts the souls that confess to Thee.28 Thou hast expended Thy blood for my salvation: do not permit me ever more to be, as I have hitherto been, the slave of the devils. I am sorry, O my Sovereign Good! for having abandoned Thee. I curse all the moments in which I voluntarily consented to sin; and I embrace Thy holy will, which desires nothing but my welfare. Eternal Father! through the merits of Jesus Christ, give me strength to do all that is pleasing to Thee. Strike Me dead rather than permit me to oppose Thy holy will. Assist me by Thy grace to banish from my heart every affection which does not tend to Thee. I love Thee, O God of my soul! I love Thee above all things: and from Thee I hope for every good: for pardon, for perseverance in Thy love, and for paradise, that there I may love Thee for eternity. O Mary! ask these graces for me. Thy Son refuses thee nothing. My hope! I trust in thee.

1“Et stultorum infinitus est numerus.” Eccles. i. 15.
2“Sapientia enim hujus mundi stultitia est apud Deum.” – 1 Cor. iii. 19.
3“Nos insensati vitam illorum æstimabamus insaniam, et finem illorum sine honore.” – Wis. v. 4.
4“Ecce quomodo computati sunt inter filios Dei, et inter sanctos sors illorum est.” – Wis. v. 5.
5“Ergo erravimus a via veritatis, et justitia lumen non luxit nobis.” – Wis. v. 6.
6“Pater, peccavi in cœlum et coram te: jam non sum dignus vocari filius tuus.” – Luke, xv. 18.
7“Non dimittam te, nisi benedixeris mihi.” – Gen. xxxii. 26.
8“Hominem illum dicimus, qui imaginem hominis salvam retinet: quæ autem est imago hominis? Rationalem esse,” – In Gen. hom. 23.
9“Utinam saperent, et intelligerent. et novissima providerent!” – Deut. xxxii. 29.
10“Melior est puer pauper et sapiens, rege sene et stulto, qui nescit prævidere in posterum.” – Eccles. iv. 13.
11“Finem vero vitam æternam.” – Rom. vi. 22.
12“Porro unum est necessarium.” – Luke, x. 42.
13“Fac hominem perdidisse quo tendit, et dicatur ei: Quo is? Et dicat: Nescio. – Nonne iste navem ad naufragium perducit? Talis est qui currit præter viam.” – In Ps. 31, enarr. 2.
14“Mortuus est, . . . et sepultus est in inferno.” – Luke, xvi. 22.
15“Quid nobis profuit superbia, aut divitiarum jactantia? Transierunt omnia illa tamquam umbra.” – Wis. v. 8.
16“Ante hominem vita et mors . . .; quod placuerit ei, dabitur illi.” – Ecclus. xv. 18.
17“Quid prodest homini, si mundum universum lucretur animæ vero suæ detrimentum patiatur?” – Matt. xvi. 26.
18“Non intres in judicium cum servo tuo.” – Ps. cxlii. 2.
19“Dedit illi scientiam sanctorum.” – Wis. x. 10.
20“Beatus, qui te scit, etiam si alia nesciat.” – Conf. l. 5, c. 4.
21“Surgunt indocti, et cœlum rapiunt.” – Conf. l. 8, c. 8.
22Proficiscamur ad sepulchra.
23“Nihil video, nisi putredinem, ossa, et vermes. Omnia somnium, umbra.” – In Matth. hom. 77.
24“Quid prodest homini, si mundum universum lucretur?” – Matt. xvi. 26.
25“Qui amat animam suam, perdet eam.” – John, xii. 25.
26“Si quis vult post me venire, abneget semetipsum.” – Matt. xvi. 24.
27“Vita in voluntate ejus.” – Ps. xxix. 6.
28“Ne tradas bestiis animas confitentes tibi.” – Ps. lxxiii. 10.


About This Blog

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP