It is to
those who have the most need of us that we ought to show our love more especially.
Let us run
to Mary, and, as her little children, cast ourselves into her arms with a perfect
is shown to faith, it is prepared for hope, but it is given only to charity. Faith points
out the way to the land of promise as a pillar of fire, hope feeds us with its manna of
sweetness, but charity actually introduces us into the Promised Land.
remorse we shall feel at the end of our lives, when we look back upon the great number of
instructions and examples afforded by God and the Saints for our perfection, and so
carelessly received by us! If this end were to come to you today, how would you be pleased
with the life you have led this year?
fear God out of love, not love Him out of fear.
royal galley of divine Love, there is no galley slave; all rowers are volunteers.
We are not
drawn to God by iron chains, but by sweet attractions and holy inspirations.
of life is the perfection of love. For love is the life of the soul.
yourself to God, you not only receive Himself in exchange, but eternal life as well.
Man is the
perfection of the Universe.
The spirit is the perfection of man.
Love is the perfection of the spirit, and charity that of love.
Therefore, the love of God is the end, the perfection of the Universe.
many who say to the Lord, "I give myself wholly to Thee,
without any reserve," but there are few who embrace the practice of this
abandonment, which consists in receiving with a certain indifference every sort of event,
as it happens in conformity with Divine Providence, as well afflictions as consolations,
contempt and reproaches as honor and glory.
One of the
principle effects of holy abandonment in God is evenness of spirits in the various
accidents of this life, which is certainly a point of great perfection, and very pleasing
to God. The way to maintain it is in imitation of the pilots, to look continually at the
Pole Star, that is, the Divine Will, in order to be constantly in conformity with it. For
it is this will which, with infinite wisdom rightly distributes prosperity and adversity,
health and sickness, riches and poverty, honor and contempt, knowledge and ignorance, and
all that happens in this life. On the other hand, if we regard creatures without this
relation to God, we cannot prevent our feelings and disposition from changing, according
to the variety of accidents which occur.
torment themselves in seeking means to discover the art of loving God, and do not know -
poor creatures - that there is no art or means of loving Him but to love those who love
Him - that is, to begin to practice those thing which are pleasing to Him.
business is to love what would have done. He wills our vocation as it is. Let us love that
and not trifle away our time hankering after other people's vocations.
moment comes to us pregnant with a command from God, only to pass on and plunge into
eternity, there to remain forever what we have made of it.
All of us
can attain to Christian virtue and holiness, no matter in what condition of life we live
and no matter what our life work may be.
of small value performed with much love of God is far more excellent than one of a higher
virtue, done with less love of God.
those whose hearts are ever open to God's inspiration; they will never lack what they need
to live good holy lives, or to perform properly the duties of their state. For just as God
gives each animal through its nature the instincts needed for its self-preservation, so -
if we offer no obstacle to grace - he gives each of us the inspirations needed for life,
activity and self-preservation on the spiritual level.
When we are at a loss what to do, when human help fails us in our dilemmas, then God
inspires us. If only we are humbly obedient, he will not let us go astray. Some plants
point their flowers at the sun, turn them with it as it moves. The sunflower, however,
turns not only its flowers, but its leaves as well. In the same way all God's chosen ones
turn their hearts toward God's will by keeping his commandments. But those who are utterly
filled with charity turn to God's will by more than mere obedience to his commandments.
They also give him their hearts, follow him in all that he commands, counsels or inspires,
unreservedly, with no exceptions whatsoever.
a temptation in itself and also the source from and by which other temptations come.
Sadness is that mental pain which is caused by the involuntary evils which affect us.
These may be external - such as poverty, sickness, contempt of others - or they may be
internal - such as ignorance, dryness in prayer, aversion, and temptation itself.
When the soul is conscious of some evil, it is dissatisfied because of this, and sadness
is produced. The soul wishes to be free from this sadness, and tries to find the means for
If the soul seeks deliverance for the love of God, it will seek with patience, gentleness,
humility, and calmness, waiting on God's providence rather than relying on its own
initiative, exertion, and diligence. If it seeks from self-love, it is eager and excited
and relying on self rather than God.
Anxiety comes from an irregulated desire to be delivered from the evil we experience.
Therefore, above all else, calm and compose your mind. Gently and quietly pursue your aim.
degree of meekness consists in seeing, serving, honoring, and treating amiably, on
occasion, those who are not to our taste, and who show themselves unfriendly, ungrateful,
and troublesome to us.
yourself familiar with the angels, and behold them frequently in spirit; for
without being seen, they are present with you.
of patience is the one which most assures us of perfection.
pleased at correction and reproofs shows that one loves the virtues which are contrary to
those faults for which he is corrected and reproved. And, therefore, it is a great sign of
advancement in perfection.
mistakes I find common among spiritual persons. One is that they ordinarily measure their
devotion by the consolations and satisfactions which they experience in the way of God, so
that if these happen to be wanting, they think they have lost all devotion. No, this is no
more than a sensible devotion. True and substantial devotion does not consist in these
things, but in having a will resolute, active, ready and constant not to offend God, and
to perform all that belongs to His service. The other mistake is that if it ever happens
to them to do anything with repugnance and weariness, they believe they have no merit in
it. On the other hand, there is then far greater merit; so that a single ounce of good
done thus by a sheer spiritual effort, amidst darkness and dullness and without interest,
is worth more than a hundred pounds done with great facility and sweetness, since the
former requires a stronger and purer love. And how great so ever may be the aridities and
repugnance of the sensible part of our soul, we ought never to lose courage, but pursue
our way as travelers treat the barking of dogs.
greatest fault is that we wish to serve God in our way, not in His way - according to our
will, not according to His will. When He wishes us to be sick, we wish to be well; when He
desires us to serve Him by sufferings, we desire to serve Him by works; when He wishes us
to exercise charity, we wish to exercise humility; when He seeks from us resignation, we
wish for devotion, a spirit of prayer or some other virtue. And this is not because the
things we desire may be more pleasing to Him, but because they are more to our taste. This
is certainly the greatest obstacle we can raise to our own perfection, for it is beyond
doubt that if we were to wish to be Saints according to our own will, we shall never be so
at all. To be truly a Saint, it is necessary to be one according to the will of God.
science of the Saints is included in these two things: To do, and to suffer. And whoever
had done these two things best, has made himself most saintly.
greatest fault among those who have a good will is that they wish to be something they
cannot be, and do not wish to be what they necessarily must be. They conceive desires to
do great things for which, perhaps, no opportunity may ever come to them, and meantime
neglect the small which the Lord puts into their hands. There are a thousand little acts
of virtue, such as bearing with the importunities and imperfections of our neighbors, not
resenting an unpleasant word or a trifling injury, restraining an emotion of anger,
mortifying some little affection, some ill-regulated desire to speak or listen, excusing
indiscretion, or yielding to another in trifles. These things are to be done by all; why
not practice them. The occasions for great gains come but rarely, but of little gains many
can be made each day; and by managing these little gains with judgement, there are some
who grow rich. Oh, how holy and rich in merits we should make ourselves, if we but knew
how to profit by the opportunities which our vocation supplies to us! Yes, yes, let us
apply ourselves to follow well the path which is close before us, and to do well on the
first opportunity, without occupying ourselves with thoughts of the last, and thus we
shall make good progress.
be perfect in one's vocation is nothing else than to perform the duties and
offices to which one is obliged, solely for the honor and love of God,
referring to His glory. Whoever works in this manner may be called perfect
in his state, a man according to the heart and will of God.
of God signifies one who has a great charity towards his neighbor and an inviolable
resolution to follow in everything the Divine Will; who bears with his own deficiencies,
and patiently supports the imperfections of others.
who possesses Christian meekness is affectionate and tender towards everyone: He is
disposed to forgive and excuse the frailties of others; the goodness of his heart appears
in a sweet affability that influences his words and actions, presents every object to his
view in the most charitable and pleasing light.
Do not lose
courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them.
all the past as nothing, and say, like David: Now I begin to
love my God.
One of the
things that keep us at a distance from perfection is, without a doubt, our tongue. For
when one has gone so far as to commit no faults in speaking, the Holy Spirit Himself
assures us that he is perfect. And since the worst way of speaking is to speak too much,
speak little and well, little and gently, little and simply, little and charitably, little
be our principal business to conquer ourselves and, from day to day, to go on increasing
in strength and perfection. Above all, however, it is necessary for us to strive to
conquer our little temptations, such as fits of anger, suspicions, jealousies, envy,
deceitfulness, vanity, attachments, and evil thoughts. For in this way we shall acquire
strength to subdue greater ones.
nothing which edifies others so much as charity and kindness, by which, as by the oil in
our lamp, the flame of good example is kept alive.
the Creator made all things, he commanded the plants to bring forth fruit each according
to its own kind. He has likewise commanded Christians, who are the living plants of his
Church, to bring forth the fruits of devotion, each one in accord with his character, his
station, and his calling,
I say that devotion must be practiced in different ways by the noblemen and by the working
man, by the servant and by the prince, by the widow, by the unmarried girl and by the
married woman. But even this distinction is not sufficient; for the practice of devotion
must be adapted to the strength, to the occupation and to the duties of each one in
Moreover, just as every sort of gem, cast in honey, becomes brighter and more sparkling,
each according to its color, so each person becomes more acceptable and fitting in his own
vocation when he sets his vocation in the context of devotion. Through devotion your
family cares become more peaceful, mutual love between husband and wife becomes more
sincere, the service we owe to the prince becomes more faithful, and our work, no matter
what it is, becomes more pleasant and agreeable.
displeasing to God are rash judgments! The judgments of the children of men are rash
because they usurp the office of Our Lord, the just Judge. They are rash because the
principal malice of sin depends on the intention and the counsel of the heart, and these
are hidden things not known to human judges. They are rash because every person has things
that could be judged, and, indeed, on which one should judge oneself.
On the cross our Savior could not entirely excuse the sin of those who crucified him, but
he extenuated the malice by pleading their ignorance. When we cannot excuse a sin, let us
at least make it worthy of compassion by attributing the most favorable cause we can to
it, such as ignorance or weakness. We can never pass judgment on our neighbor.
As often as
you can during the day, recall your mind to the presence of God.... Consider what God is
doing, what you are doing. You will always find God's eyes fixed on you in unchangeable
Our hearts should each day seek a resting-place on Calvary or near our Lord, in order to
retire there to rest from worldly cares and to find strength against temptation.
Remember frequently to retire into the solitude of your heart, even while you are
externally occupied in business or society. This mental solitude need not be hindered even
though many people may be around you, for they surround your body not your heart, which
should remain alone in the presence of God. As David said, "My eyes are ever looking
at the Lord."
We are rarely so taken up in our exchanges with others as to be unable from time to time
to move our hearts into solitude with God.
does not depend so much on mortifying ourselves, as upon knowing how to mortify ourselves;
that is, upon knowing how to chose the best mortifications, which are those most repugnant
to our natural inclinations. Some are inclined to disciplines and fasts, and though they
may be difficult things, they embrace them with fervor, and practice them gladly and
easily, on account of this leaning which they have toward them. But then they will be so
sensitive in regard to reputation and honor, that the least ridicule, disapproval, or
slight is sufficient to throw them into a state of impatience and perturbation and to give
rise to such complaints as show an equal want of peace and reason. These are the
mortifications which they ought to embrace with the greatest readiness, if they wish to
part of Christians usually practice incision instead of circumcision. They will make a cut
indeed in a diseased part but as for employing the knife of circumcision, to take away
whatever is superfluous from the heart, few go so far.
all of your duties with a calm mind and try to do them one at a time. If you try to do
them all at once, or without order, your spirits will be so overcharged and depressed that
they will likely sink under the burden and nothing will be done.
In all of your affairs, rely on the Providence of God through which alone you much look
for success. Strive quietly to cooperate with its designs. If you have a sure trust in
God, the success that comes to you will always be that which is most useful to you,
whether it appears good or bad in your private judgment.
Think of the little children who with one hand hold fast to their father while with the
other they gather berries. If you handle the goods of this world with one hand, you must
also always hold fast with the other to your heavenly Father's hand, and turn toward him
from time to time to see if you are pleasing him. Above all, be sure that you never leave
his hand and his protection, thinking that with your own two hands you can gather more or
get some other advantage
intend our own salvation in the way God intends it.
God desires that we should be saved. We too need constantly to desire what God desires.
God not only means us to be saved, but actually gives us all we need to achieve salvation.
So we are not to stop at merely desiring salvation, but go a step further and accept all
the graces God has prepared for us, the graces constantly offered to us. It is all very
well to say, "I want to be saved." It is not must use merely saying, "I
want to take the necessary steps." We must actually take the steps. We need to make a
definite resolution to take and use the graces God holds out to us. Our wills must be in
tune with God's. Because God wants us to be saved, we should want to be saved. We should
also welcome the means to salvation that God intends us to take....that is why general
acts of devotion and prayer should always be followed by particular resolutions.
strong as death since both equally separate the soul from the body and all terrestrial
things, the only difference is, that the separation is real and effectual when caused by
death, whereas that occasioned by love is usually confined to the heart.
I say usually, because divine love is sometimes so violent that it actually separates the
soul from the body, and, by causing the death of those who love, it renders them
infinitely happier than it it bestowed on them a thousand lives.
As the lot of the reprobate is to die in sin, that of the elect is to expire in the love
and grace of God, which is effected in several ways.
Many of the saints died, not only in the state of charity, but in the actual exercise of
divine love. St. Augustine expired in making an act of contrition, which cannot exist
without love; St. Jerome, in exhorting his disciples to charity and the practice of all
virtues; St. Ambrose, in conversing sweetly with his Saviour, whom he had received in the
Holy Eucharist; St. Antony of Padua also expired in the act of discoursing with our Divine
Lord, after having recited a hymn in honor of the ever -- glorious Virgin; St. Thomas of
Aquinas, with his hands clasped, his eyes raised to heaven, and pronouncing these words of
the Canticles, which were the last he had expounded: " Come, my beloved, let us go
forth into the field " (Cant. vii. II).
All the apostles, and the greater number of the martyrs, died in prayer. Venerable Bede,
having learned the hour of his death by revelation, went to the choir at the usual hour to
sing the evening office, it being the feast of the Ascension, and at the very moment he
had finished singing vespers he expired, following his Guide and Master into Heaven, to
celebrate His praises in that abode of rest and happiness, round which the shades of night
can never gather, because it is illumined by the brightness of the eternal day, which
neither dawns nor ends.
John Gerson, Chancellor of the University of Paris, remarkable for his learning and
virtue, -- of whom Sixtus of Sienna said, " that it is difficult to decide whether
the vein of piety which runs through his works surpasses his science, or whether his
learning exceeds his piety," -- after having explained the fifty properties of divine
love mentioned in the Canticles, expired at the close of three days, smiling, and
pronouncing these words of the same sacred text: " Thy love, O God, is strong as
death " (Cant. viii. 6).
The fervor and ardor of Saint Martin at the hour of his death are remarkable. Saint Louis,
who has proved himself as great a monarch among the saints as an eminent saint among
kings, being attacked by the plague, ceased not to pray, and after receiving the viaticum,
he extended his arms in the form of a cross, fixed his eyes on heaven, and, animated with
love and confidence, expired in saying with the Psalmist: " I will come into Thy
house, O Lord; I will worship towards Thy holy temple, in Thy fear " (Ps. 5: 8).
Saint Peter Celestine, after having endured the most cruel and incredible afflictions ,,
seeing the end of his days approach, began to sing like the swan, and terminated his song
with his life, by these words of the last Psalm: " Let every spirit praise the Lord
" (Ps. 150: 5).
Saint Eusebia, surnamed the Stranger, died kneeling in fervent prayer. Saint Peter the
Martyr yielded his last sigh in writing (with his finger, which he had dipped in his blood
) the articles of the faith for which he sacrificed his life, and in saying: " Into
Thy Hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit " (Ps. 30: 6).
The great apostle of the Indies and Japan, Saint Francis Xavier, expired holding a
crucifix, which he tenderly embraced, and incessantly repeated in transports of love,
" O Jesus! the God of my heart ! "
As soon as
worldly people see that you wish to follow a devout life they aim a thousand darts of
mockery and even detraction at you. The most malicious of them will slander your
conversion as hypocrisy, bigotry, and trickery. They will say that the world has turned
against you and being rebuffed by it you have turned to God. Your friends will raise a
host of objections which they consider very prudent and charitable. They will tell you
that you will become depressed, lose your reputation in the world, be unbearable, and grow
old before your time, and that your affairs at home will suffer. You must live in the
world like one in the world. They will say that you can save your soul without going to
such extremes, and a thousand similar trivialities.
Philothea, all this is mere foolish, empty babbling. These people aren't interested in
your health or welfare. "If you were of the world, the world would love what is its
own but because you are not of the world, therefore the world hates you," says the
Savior. We have seen gentlemen and ladies spend the whole night, even many nights one
after another, playing chess or cards. Is there any concentration more absurd, gloomy, or
depressing than this last? Yet worldly people don't say a word and the players' friends
don't bother their heads about it. If we spend an hour in meditation or get up a little
earlier than usual in the morning to prepare for Holy Communion, everyone runs for a
doctor to cure us of hypochondria and jaundice. People can pass thirty nights in dancing
and no one complains about it, but if they watch through a single Christmas night they
cough and claim their stomach is upset the next morning. Does anyone fail to see that the
world is an unjust judge, gracious and well disposed to its own children but harsh and
rigorous towards the children of God?
We can never please the world unless we lose ourselves together with it. It is so
demanding that it can't be satisfied. "John came neither eating nor drinking,"
says the Savior, and you say, "He has a devil." "The Son of man came eating
and drinking" and you say that he is "a Samaritan." It is true, Philothea,
that if we are ready to laugh, play cards, or dance with the world in order to please it,
it will be scandalized at us, and if we don't, it will accuse us of hypocrisy or
melancholy. If we dress well, it will attribute it to some plan we have, and if we neglect
our dress, it will accuse of us of being cheap and stingy. Good humor will be called
frivolity and mortification sullenness. Thus the world looks at us with an evil eye and we
can never please it. It exaggerates our imperfections and claims they are sins, turns our
venial sins into mortal sins and changes our sins of weakness into sins of malice.
"Charity is kind," says Saint Paul, but the world on the contrary is evil.
"Charity thinks no evil," but the world always thinks evil and when it can't
condemn our acts it will condemn our intentions. Whether the sheep have horns or not and
whether they are white or black, the wolf doesn't hesitate to eat them if he can. Whatever
we do, the world will wage war on us. If we stay a long time in the confessional, it will
wonder how we can have so much to say; if we stay only a short time, it will say we
haven't told everything. It will watch all our actions and at a single little angry word
it will protest that we can't get along with anyone. To take care of our own interests
will look like avarice, while meekness will look like folly. As for the children of the
world, their anger is called being blunt, their avarice economy, their intimate
conversations lawful discussions. Spiders always spoil the good work of the bees.
Let us give up this blind world, Philothea. Let it cry out at us as long as it pleases,
like a cat that cries out to frighten birds in the daytime. Let us be firm in our purposes
and unswerving in our resolutions. Perseverance will prove whether we have sincerely
sacrificed ourselves to God and dedicated ourselves to a devout life. Comets and planets
seem to have just about the same light, but comets are merely fiery masses that pass by
and after a while disappear, while planets remain perpetually bright. So also hypocrisy
and true virtue have a close resemblance in outward appearance but they can be easily
distinguished from one another. Hypocrisy cannot last long but is quickly dissipated like
rising smoke, whereas true virtue is always firm and constant. It is no little assistance
for a sure start in devotion if we first suffer criticism and calumny because of it. In
this way we escape the danger of pride and vanity, which are comparable to the Egyptian
midwives whom a cruel Pharaoh had ordered to kill the Israelites' male children on the
very day of their birth. We are crucified to the world and the world must be crucified to
us. The world holds us to be fools; let us hold it to be mad.