Category Archives: Spirituality

Surrender

The idea of surrender to God is one of those “weird” moments in Matt’s life. Fear not, there are, tragically, not that many. Were that there were more! But, I recall some years ago being in the passenger seat of a car and either pulling out of a detached garage, I think it was my in-laws. They are the only ones I’ve known with a detached garage, very common in Chicago bungalows. But, I remember either pulling out of the garage forwards, or backing into the garage, God chooses when and where He will, and having what I call a grace, to be granted the insight and the commitment at the same time to surrender to God and to know this was right and desired by Him. And, have been convicted and blessed in that knowledge joyfully so ever since. Weird. I know.

-Donohue, Bill. The Catholic Advantage: Why Health, Happiness, and Heaven Await the Faithful (p. 171-174). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

“…We can offer ourselves up to God as well, (Rev. Jean-Pierre de Caussade, SJ, Abandonment to Divine Providence) instructs, but to do so requires the combined exercise of faith, hope, and love. Our faith in God, our hope for eternal salvation, our love for God and neighbor, it is these virtues, when exercised in tandem, that constitute the makings of surrender. Absent their presence, true surrender is not possible.

Above all, surrender demands freedom from self-interest. “The free gifts He asks from us are self-denial, obedience, and love,” the French Jesuit tells us. Easier said than done, especially in our society today. American culture celebrates self-expression, self-autonomy, and narcissism, the exact opposite traits that are necessary to surrender to God. Indeed, we treat freedom from self-interest as a bizarre and completely unsatisfactory quality, something suited for masochists. But if we obsess with putting ourselves first, Father de Caussade writes, we have no room for God, and no capacity to love our neighbor.

…“Faith is never unhappy,”…“What is wonderful in the saints is their constancy of faith under every circumstance,”…saintly qualities have a way of capturing the hearts of all persons…

…there are obstacles to surrender, and they are formidable: unwise counsel; unjust judgments of others; interior humiliations; and distrust of self.

…We can learn from the saints how to perfect the practice of surrendering to God,…that their holiness is found in “their surrender to the will of God.”…Surrender also brings joy. What cannot be doubted is that we will be tested. “The state of full surrender is full of consolation for those who have reached it,” he says, “but in order to reach it we must pass through much anguish.”…

…On the Feast of All Saints in 2013, Pope Francis noted that saints are not “supermen” who were born “perfect.” No, he insists, they lived lives much like ours, full of “joy and griefs, struggles and hopes.” So what made them different? “They spent their lives in the service of others,” he says; “they endured suffering and adversity without hatred and responded to evil with good, spreading joy and peace.”

Love, surrendering always to Him, or trying,
Matthew

 

Sell EVERYTHING!! Give to the poor. Follow Me. – Mt 19:16–30, Mk 10:17–31, Lk 18:18–30


-“Christ and the rich, young ruler”, Heinrich Hoffman, 1889, purchased by John D Rockefeller Jr, now residing at Riverside Church in New York. Please click on the image for greater detail.

There can be nothing more important than Him. NOTHING. Mt 5:29-30

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God– O Jesus, obedient even unto the death of the Cross, teach us to follow Your example.

MEDITATION

Jesus said to the young man who was aspiring to perfection, “If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor,”—the evangelical counsel of poverty — “and come follow Me” (Matthew 19:21)—the counsel of voluntary obedience, according to St. Thomas. To follow Jesus means to imitate His virtues, among which obedience certainly ranks first. Jesus came into the world to accomplish the will of His Father: “It is written of Me that I should do Thy will, O God” (Hebrews 10:7). Several times during His life He said it expressly: “I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me” (John 6:38); and He declared that His food, His sustenance, the support of His life, was the fulfilling of His Father’s will (cf. John 4:34). But Jesus also wanted to express concretely His dependence on His heavenly Father, by submitting Himself to those creatures who in the natural order had authority over Him as man. Thus he lived for thirty years subject in all things to Mary and Joseph, recognizing His Father’s authority in theirs. “He was subject to them,” the Gospel says (Luke 2:51), as it summarizes in these few words the long years of the private life of the Savior. Later, during His public life, and especially during His Passion, Jesus always gave an example of obedience to constituted authority, civil as well as religious, even subjecting Himself to His judges and executioners and making Himself, according to the words of St. Paul, “obedient unto death, even to the death of the Cross” (Philippians 2:8). Having come into the world through obedience, Jesus wanted to live in obedience and through obedience. He embraced death, repeating in the Garden of Olives: “Father … not My will but Thine be done” (Luke 22:42). To follow Jesus in the life of perfection means that we must voluntarily embrace a life of total dependence. St. Thomas concludes from this that obedience belongs to the essence of the state of perfection.

COLLOQUY

“O Jesus, You would not have one that loves You well take any other road than that which You Yourself took” (cf. Teresa of Jesus Foundations, 5). And now I have decided to follow You, to walk in Your footsteps on the path of holy obedience, a way hollowed out in the solid rock of Your example, of Your most humble submission, of Your ineffable subjection. “O God, You who reign over the angels, You whom the principalities and powers obey, were subject to Mary, and not only to Mary but also to Joseph because of Mary. For God to obey a creature is humility without a parallel. O Lord, You abase Yourself, and I, shall I exalt myself? O my soul, if you disdain to imitate the example of a man, it will certainly not be unworthy of you to imitate your Creator. If perhaps you cannot follow Him wherever He goes, at least follow Him to the point to which He willed to descend for you” (cf. St. Bernard).

O Jesus, grant that I may follow You in the way of obedience; give me a profound spirit of faith so that I shall always be able to recognize Your voice and will in the command of obedience. “Teach me, O Lord, to abandon myself with confidence to Your words: ‘He who hears you, hears Me.’ Teach me to forget my own will; You appreciate this sacrifice very greatly because it makes You Master of the free will which You Yourself have given me. I wish to offer You this gift in its plenitude, with no reservation whatever. Grant that I may be faithful to this resolution and then, in spite of the repugnances and opposition of nature, I shall succeed in conforming myself to what You command; in short, whether it costs me pain or not, I shall succeed in submitting myself. I know indeed, O Lord, that You will not fail to help me, and in subjecting my reason and will for love of You, You will teach me how to become master of them. Once I am master of myself, I shall be able to consecrate myself perfectly to You by offering You a pure will, for You to unite to Your own” (cf. Teresa of Jesus Foundations, 5).

Love, pray for me,
Matthew

God’s will


-please click on the image for greater detail.

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – I place myself in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, asking Him to penetrate my soul with His words, “He that does the will of My Father Who is in Heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 7:21).

MEDITATION

The path which leads to sanctity, that is, to God, can be marked out only by God Himself, by His will. Jesus expressed this very strongly when He said, “Not everyone that says to Me “Lord, Lord” shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven, but he that does the will of My Father Who is in Heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven.” (Mt 7:21). And to show that the souls who are most closely united to Him, the ones He loves most, are precisely those who do the will of God, He does not hesitate to say: “Whosoever shall do the will of My Father, that is in Heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.” (Mt 12:50).

The saints learned in the school of Jesus. St. Teresa of Avila, after having received the most sublime mystical communications, did not hesitate to declare, “The highest perfection consists not in interior favors, or in great raptures, or in visions, or in the spirit of prophecy, but in the bringing of our wills so closely into conformity with the will of God that, as soon as we realize He wills anything, we desire it ourselves with all our might, and take the bitter with the sweet” (Foundations, 5). St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus echoes this statement, “The more joyfully [souls] do His will, the greater is their perfection” (Story of a Soul, 1).

True love of God consists in adhering perfectly to His holy will, not desiring to do or be other than what God indicates for each of us, to the point of becoming, as it were, “a living will of God.” Seen in this light, sanctity is possible for every soul of good will; it is not impossible that a soul which leads a humble, hidden life, may adhere to the divine will as well and perhaps even better than a “great” saint who has received from God an exterior mission and has been enriched with mystical graces. The perfection of a soul may be measured by the degree to which it does the will of God, and finds its happiness in doing it.

COLLOQUY

O my God, You make me understand that the only thing necessary is Your holy will, that it is my one and only treasure. In this life, what can be more beautiful, more safe, more perfect and more holy than to do Your will? You have given me free will; to what better use can I put it than to make it adhere to Your divine will? If I should perform great works and carry out marvelous undertakings which are not fully in accordance with Your will, they would have no value for eternity and would, therefore, be destined to perish; whereas the slightest works done according to Your will have an eternal value.

O Lord, I know that I am nothing, I acknowledge the weakness of my poor will which now turns to one good, now to another, and considers as good what is really imperfection, fault, sin. But Your will is indefectible; You can desire nothing but the true, sovereign good; hence, You desire only my good, my salvation, my sanctification. Nothing, then, can be more advantageous to me than to consecrate my will to Yours, O my God.

“At this moment, O Lord, I freely consecrate my will to You without reserve…. Grant that Your will may always be fulfilled in me, in the way which is most pleasing to You. If You wish me to do this by means of trials, give me strength and let them come. If by means of persecutions and sickness and dishonor and need, here I am, my Father, I shall not turn my face away.” (Teresa of Jesus, Way of Perfection, 32).

So many times I have made You the offering of my will, consecrating it to You and declaring that I wanted nothing but Your divine will. But an equal number of times, alas, I have taken back my offering, and in my actions, labors, and apostolic works, instead of allowing myself to be guided by You, I have been led more or less by pride and personal satisfaction. How far I am, O Lord, from losing my will in Yours! How attached I still am to my own ideas and tastes! How many things still remain in me which are contrary to Your will! Give me light to recognize them, and strength to free myself from them! I confess that every time I draw away from Your will, even if only in little things, to act according to my own will, I feel remorse, and a lessening of peace in my soul. Only in Your will is my good, my peace, my salvation, my sanctification.

O Lord, hear my poor prayer: once more I offer You my will; take it, keep it a prisoner, so that I shall never be able to withdraw my offering.

With St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, I repeat, “My God … I will not be a saint by halves, I am not afraid of suffering for You. One thing only do I fear, and that is to follow my own will. Accept, then, the offering I make of it, for I choose all that You will.” (Therésè of the Child Jesus, Story of a Soul, 1).

Love, pray for me,
Matthew

Peace

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – O Holy Spirit, help me to establish my heart in peace.

MEDITATION

A soul who has tasted God, under the influence of the gift of wisdom, looks at the world with the eyes of God, and therefore is able to judge all things “secundum rationes divinae” (St. Thomas IIa IIae, q.45, a.3, ad 3) by divine principles, according to supernatural motives, and not according to limited human reasoning. These are the truly “wise” judgments that we can never formulate without the help of the Holy Spirit. In fact, “the sensual man [the man of the senses and of natural reason] perceiveth not these things that are of the Spirit of God; for it is foolishness to him, and he cannot understand, because it is spiritually examined. But the spiritual man [the man of faith guided by the Holy Spirit] judgeth all things” (1 Corinthians 2:14,15). He judges all things in relation to their supreme Cause, God; therefore, he directs all his acts and orders everything in his life according to God. From this order – the only true order – comes peace, the fruit of the wise direction of the gift of wisdom; hence, the man who habitually lives under the influence of this gift is a peaceful man par excellence. His heart is established in peace, there is no longer anything disordered in it; all his affections and desires, all his thoughts and acts, are completely ordered according to God, being wholly submitted and conformed to His laws, to His will, to His good pleasure. One who possesses peace, disseminates peace. A peacemaker, in the etymological sense, is one who makes peace, cultivates peace, and spreads it about him. This is why the gift of wisdom corresponds to the beatitude of peace, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Only one who lives under the influence of this gift can truly judge and regulate everything according to God, so that nothing, not even suffering, can disturb his interior peace, for he knows that even the most painful happenings are permitted and ordered by God for the good of His elect. “To them that love God, all things work together unto good” (Romans 8:28).

In this way the gift of wisdom gives a note of sweetness, not only to our prayer, but also to our practical life:
“Under the influence of this gift,” says St. Thomas, “what is bitter becomes sweet, and weariness becomes repose” (IIa IIae, q.45, a.3, ad 3).

COLLOQUY

“O Holy Spirit, give us Your wisdom to teach and guide us and to bring all things back to You, from whom they came. Oh! if we could really return to You as we came out from You, like waves returning to the ocean whence they came! Oh! if we could only make this complete return to You, we should be in perpetual happiness and perpetual peace!

Your wisdom is the perfection which orders all things in relation to You who are their end. It considers the past, looks at the present and scans the future always in relation to You. From this orientation, peace, the sweet fruit of wisdom, is born in our hearts. He who possesses this peace is always serene: he is not troubled by the past or the present, and he looks peacefully toward the future, because he knows that everything is permitted and arranged by Your sovereign goodness.

O eternal Father, give us light to know this peace, the cause of so many blessings, and without which we fall into so many faults and evils!

Oh! why can I not communicate this peace to every creature? If I were what I should be, I certainly could diffuse it everywhere! O Lord, give me Your peace, the peace of a heart which lives united to You, for of myself I can have no good, and without You, I cannot have peace.” (St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi).

“O most benign Jesus, give me above all desires the desire to rest in You, and in You let my heart find peace. You are the true peace of the heart; You are its only refuge; without You, all things are difficult and troubled. In this peace, then, that is, in You, the one sovereign eternal Good, I will sleep and take my rest.”-(Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, III, 15:4).

Love, and the peace only He can give,
Matthew

To love greatly

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – O Lord, give me a generous heart, capable of undertaking great things for You.

MEDITATION

Whoever aspires to sanctity should have a generous, magnanimous heart, which is not satisfied with doing little things for God, and tiny acts of virtue, but is eager to do great things and give great proofs of love.  Just as there is no sanctity without heroic virtue, so it is impossible to attain to heroism without performing great acts of virtue.

Some think there is pride and delusion of the devil in fostering great desires, or in wanting to do great things for God.  There would be, certainly, if in this we sought honor for ourselves, or praise from others, or if, in trying to do great things, we were to neglect the small details of our daily duties.  The virtue of magnanimity, on the contrary, inclines the soul to do great things for God, but never to the detriment of obedience, humility, or the fulfillment of duty. Generous souls, precisely in this domain, will often meet with arduous, difficult things which call for much virtue, but which usually remain hidden from the eyes of others. In circumstances such as these we are often tempted to give up, under the pretext that it is not necessary to push virtue to such extremes; we excuse ourselves, saying that we are neither angels nor saints. St. Teresa of Jesus says, “We may not be; but what a good thing it is for us to reflect that we can be if we will only try, and if God gives us His hand!” (Way of Perfection, 16).  The Saint strongly insists that those who have dedicated themselves to the spiritual life should not nourish petty desires, but generous ones, nor should they fear to emulate the saints; she affirms with authority, “I have never seen any courageous person hanging back on this road, nor any soul that, under the guise of humility, acted like a coward, go as far in many years as the courageous soul can in a few.”

COLLOQUY

“O strong love of God! I really think that nothing seems impossible to one who loves! O happy soul that has obtained Your peace, O my God! It has become mistress over all the trials and perils of the world, and it fears none of them when there is a question of serving You.

It is a characteristic of the true servant of God, to whom His Majesty has given light to follow the true path, that when beset by these fears, his desire not to stop only increases. Teach me, then, O my God, always to go straight ahead, to fight with courage, and to parry the blows of the devil who is trying to frighten me.

For what can a man accomplish, my Lord, who does not wholly abase himself for Your sake? How far, O, how far, how very far—I could repeat it a thousand times—am I from doing this! How many imperfections do I find in myself! How feebly do I serve You! Sometimes I could really wish I were devoid of sense, for then I should not understand how much evil is in me. May He who is able to do so, grant me succor! We must have great confidence for it is most important that we should not cramp our good desires but should believe that, with God’s help, if we make continual efforts to do so, we shall attain, though perhaps not at once, to that which many saints have reached through His favor.

“How true it is, O Lord, that everything is possible in You; I realize too, that of myself I can do nothing. Therefore, I beseech You with St. Augustine: ‘Give me, Lord, what You command me and then command what You will’” (Teresa of Jesus, Conceptions of the Love of God, 3 – Way of Perfection, 21 – Life, 39 – 13).

Love, greatly,
Matthew

Interior Trials

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – O Lord, purify me as gold in the crucible; purify me and do not spare me, that I may attain to union with You.

MEDITATION

If Our Lord finds you strong and faithful, humble and patient in accepting exterior trials, He will go on little by little to others that are more inward and spiritual “to purge and cleanse you more inwardly … to give you more interior blessings” (-St John of the Cross, Living Flame of Love 2, 28). The passive night of the spirit culminates precisely in these interior sufferings of the soul, by which God “destroys and consumes its spiritual substance and absorbs it in deep and profound darkness” (-St John of the Cross, Dark Night of the Soul II, 6, 1) in order that it may be completely reborn to divine Life. We are, in fact, so steeped in miseries and faults, which adhere so closely to our nature, that if God Himself did not take our purification in hand, renewing us from head to foot, we should never be delivered from them. Jesus, too, spoke of this total renovation, of this profound spiritual rebirth: “Unless a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5); the kingdom of God here below is the state of perfect union with Him, to which no one attains if he be not first totally purified.

St. John of the Cross explains at length how this work of purification is accomplished by the Holy Spirit, who, invading the soul with the living flame of His Love, destroys and consumes all its imperfections. So long as this divine flame purifies and disposes the soul, says the Saint, it “is very oppressive … the flame is not bright to it, but dark, and if it gives any light at all, it is only that the soul may see and feel its own faults and miseries” (John of the Cross, Living Flame of Love 1,19). Although the soul finds itself under the direct action of the Holy Spirit, this action is not agreeable but painful, because its first fruit is precisely to show it all its weaknesses and miseries that it may conceive a horror for them, detest them, humble itself for them and be sorry for them. The penetrating light of the “living flame of Love” lifts the thick veil which hides from the soul the roots of its evil habits. The soul suffers at such a sight, not only because it feels humbled, but also because it fears being rejected by God; indeed, seeing itself so miserable, it feels itself dreadfully unworthy of divine love, and, at certain times, it even seems as if God in anger had cast it off from Himself. This is the greatest torment the soul can suffer, but a precious one, because it purifies the soul of all residue of self-love and pride, and deepens within it the profound abyss of humility which calls to and draws down the abyss of divine mercy.

COLLOQUY

“O my soul, if you are wounded by sin, behold your physician, ready to cure you. His mercy is infinitely greater than all your iniquities. This I say, not that you may remain in your misery, but that by doing your utmost to overcome it, you may not despair of His clemency and pardon.

Your God is sweetness itself, mildness itself; whom will you love, whom will you desire except Him?

Let not your imperfections discourage you; your God does not despise you because you are imperfect and infirm; on the contrary, He loves you because you desire to cure your ills. He will come to your assistance and make you more perfect than you would have dared to hope, and adorned by His own hand, your beauty will be unequalled, like His own goodness.

O my Jesus, tender Shepherd, gentle Master, help me, lift up Your dejected sheep, extend Your hand to sustain me, heal my wounds, strengthen my weakness, save me; otherwise I shall perish. I am unworthy of life, I confess, unworthy of Your light and help; for my ingratitude has been so great; Your mercy, however, is greater still. Have pity upon me, then, O God, You who love men so much! Oh, my only hope! Have pity upon me according to the greatness of your mercy.” (-Blessed Louis de Blois).

“One abyss calleth upon another. It is there, my God, at the bottom that I shall meet You: the abyss of my poverty, of my nothingness, will be confronted with the abyss of Your mercy, the immensity of Your All. There I shall find strength to die to myself and, losing every trace of self, I shall be changed into love.” (St Elisabeth of the Trinity, First Retreat [Heaven on Earth] 1).

Love & deepest empathy & affection,
Matthew

excuses…

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – O Jesus, Who willed to be silent before him who condemned You to death, teach me the art of not excusing myself.

MEDITATION

In any failure, fault, or personal error, our ego instinctively tries to excuse itself. It is the tactic of pride–which is not willing to admit its mistakes and schemes–to hide them under more or less false pretexts, always finding some way to blame them on other people or on circumstances. Adam and Eve acted in this way after their sin; it is also the instinct of anyone who commits a fault. Herein lies great danger for the soul, because it is impossible for us to correct our faults if we are not willing to acknowledge them. It requires great courage to tear down these ingenious but inconsistent constructions of self-love, to expose our failings and look them squarely in the face, just as they are, without blaming them on anyone but ourselves. “When we commit a fault,” said St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Doctor of the Church, “we must not attribute it to a physical cause, such as illness or the weather, but we must attribute it to our own lack of perfection…. Occasions do not make man weak, but they do show what he is” (Counsels and Souvenirs).

Excusing our faults may satisfy our pride; but in reality, it is voluntarily blinding oneself and making oneself incapable of seeing the true situation. Thus our poor soul is not only unable to advance, but is condemned to grope in the dark with no possibility of escape. On the other hand, if we sincerely recognize our faults, we have already taken the first step toward correcting them. Yet it is not enough to avoid excusing ourselves interiorly; we must also guard against exonerating ourselves before others. In other words, after acknowledging our failings before God, we must also confess them before men, accept a correction humbly, and repair the bad example we may have given. At the same time, it would be of little value to receive an accusation or a reproach silently, if the soul–even at the cost of great struggle and effort–did not also avoid excusing itself interiorly.

COLLOQUY

O Lord, I pray that Your light will be so abundant in me that it will disperse, like fog before the sun, all those excuses by means of which my self-love tries to cover my failings and faults. Enable me to recognize all my defects and to judge them as You do. Rule over my heart so that it will not try to find subtle reasons for manufacturing excuses for my faults. And if, because of my weakness, I fall easily, grant that I may at least confess it humbly to You and to others. Take away from my conscience the mask of vain, pitiful excuses which prevents me from seeing myself as You see me and know me, as I really am in Your eyes. Then, O Lord, give me the humility necessary to accept with good will the corrections of others. With Your gentleness extinguish my sensitiveness which is ever ready to burst into flame and to be resentful, and grant me the grace to imitate Your meekness and humility in the presence of Your judges.

“O Lord, when I think in how many ways Thou didst suffer, and in all of them undeservedly, I know not what to say for myself or what I am doing when I make excuses for myself. Thou knowest, my God, that if there is anything good in me it comes from no other hands than Thine own. Should I desire that no evil be spoken of a thing so evil as myself, when they have said such wicked things of Thee, Who art good above all other good? It is intolerable, my God; nor would I that Thou shouldst have to tolerate anything displeasing to Thine eyes being found in Thy handmaiden. For see, Lord, I am blind, and I content myself with very little. Do Thou give me light and make me truly desire that all should hate me, since I have so often left Thee, Who hast loved me with such faithfulness.

What is this, my God? What does it matter to us if we are blamed by all, provided we are without blame in the sight of the Lord?” (Teresa of Jesus, Doctor of the Church, Way of Perfection, 15).

Love,
Matthew

Life of Love

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – Grant, O Lord, that even while I am here on earth, I may love You as I shall love You in heaven.

MEDITATION

If it may be said that by faith “eternal life begins in us” (St. Thomas, Summa, IIa IIae, q.4, a.1, co.), the same may be said–and with greater reason–of charity, which will remain unchanged even in heaven. Eternal life will be essentially a life of love, of love which has reached its greatest height, for when we know God perfectly by the beatific vision, we shall finally be able to fulfill with absolute perfection the precept of loving God with all our strength. On this earth such perfection is possible only relatively; nevertheless, even now we possess the same charity with which we shall love God in heaven. Therefore, we can begin even now that life of love which will flower completely in eternity. Our love in heaven will have the characteristics of completeness and absolute continuity, with the impossibility of its ever failing. We cannot attain this while we are on earth, but we can strive for it by the exercise of a pure, intense love, a love that is, as far as possible, always in action. These, then, are the qualities our love for God should have: purity, intensity, continuity.

Our love for God will be pure when we love Him so much that we seek only His glory and the accomplishment of His will: “Hallowed be Thy name … Thy will be done” (Mt 6:9-10). This is the only real good that we, poor creatures, can wish for our God. All the glory we can possibly give Him consists in saying a wholehearted yes to His holy will, in rivaling the angels and blessed in heaven by carrying out His will here on earth with such great love and completeness: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (ibid.). The purity of our love should consist in seeking God’s glory alone, His will alone, completely forgetting ourself, in being ready to sacrifice every wish, desire, and interest for Him.

Therefore, even in the spiritual life, our first thought should be, not our own perfection, progress, and consolation, but always God’s delight, good pleasure, and glory. It is thus that we will serve our own interests better, for he who gives himself to God, completely forgetting himself, draws down upon himself the fullness of divine love. What greater good could come to us than being loved by Infinite Love?

COLLOQUY

“O Lord, You teach me that without love even the most perfect gifts are as nothing, that charity is the most excellent way, for it leads directly to You. That is why I wish for no science but the science of love, and having given all the substance of my house for love, I count it as nothing. I understand so clearly that love alone can make me pleasing in Your sight, that my sole ambition is to acquire it.

My occupation is to gather flowers, the flowers of love and sacrifice, and to offer them to You, my God, to give You pleasure. I wish to labor for Your love alone–with the sole aim of pleasing You, of consoling Your Sacred Heart, and of saving souls who will love You through eternity.” (Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Story of a Soul 13 – Act of Oblation).

“O God, my love for You ought to be total, infinite in desire, because You will not give Yourself entirely to a soul unless it gives itself wholly to You. I must not cling to any attachment, nor admit even a single voluntary imperfection, nor refuse You anything. Grant that I may give myself to You in a continual, uninterrupted donation, moment by moment, seeking in all things Your greater glory, always trying to please You, always wanting Your will alone, doing each action with all my heart and with all my love.

My love for You must be delicate. Help me to reach that exquisiteness and delicacy, that regard for details which You appreciate so much, which delights You.

My love for You should be strong and generous, and prove itself in sacrifice, in seeking sacrifice in the offering and the smiling acceptance of suffering. O God, for love of You, I want to take advantage of the little opportunities so that I may be strong in the big ones.” (Sr. Carmela of the Holy Spirit, OCD.).

Love,
Matthew

Spending time w/God

They say we proclaim our priorities inaudibly by how we spend our time. How do I spend mine? What place should that MOST important relationship, the one for eternity, be? If you find yourself not growing in your spiritual life, consider what you are or are not devoting to it, first. Analogies w/human relationships are an excellent place to begin in evaluating that MOST important relationship in our lives. 🙂

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – O Lord, grant that I may always live in Your presence with my interior gaze fixed on You.

MEDITATION

The life of continual prayer becomes easier as the soul succeeds in preserving within itself, throughout the day, the awareness of the presence of God. We already know that God is always present within us, that we live, move, and have our being in Him; but while we try during the time of prayer to become more and more aware of this great truth, our consciousness of it gradually fades away in the course of our daily occupations, and we are often surprised to find ourselves acting as if God were no longer present within us.

The practice of the presence of God really consists in making strong efforts to keep God always present in our mind and heart, even when we are engaged in our daily tasks. We can do this in various ways: we can use external objects, such as an image or a crucifix which we wear or put on our worktable, the sight of which will often remind us of God; we also can use our imagination to picture “interiorly” the Lord near us. For, if the humanity of Jesus is not physically present, it is nevertheless always exercising an influence over us—even a physical one—in the communication of grace; so we can truly “represent to ourselves” this action of Jesus within us. We can also keep a very vivid remembrance of God by using some truth of faith.

For example, I can cultivate the thought of the continual presence of the Trinity within me, and try to perform all my actions in honor of my divine Guests; or else I can consider my duties as so many manifestations of the will of God, and so unite myself to this divine will as I perform them. Further, I can make it a practice to view all the circumstances of my life in the light of faith, and therefore, arranged by divine Providence for my good. This will incline me to accept them and to repeat continually to my heavenly Father: “I am content with everything You do for me.”

COLLOQUY

“Lord, may my motto be: Thou in me and I in Thee! How beautiful is Your presence within me, in the inmost sanctuary of my soul. May my continual occupation be to retire into myself, that I may lose myself in You, and live with You. I feel You so vividly in my soul, that I have for post on the practice of the presence of God only to become recollected to find You there within me, and in that, I find all my happiness.

“O Lord, let me live with You as with a friend! Help me to live in the awareness of faith always, in order that I may be united to You no matter what happens. I bear heaven in my soul, since You, who satiate the blessed in the Beatific Vision, give Yourself to me in faith and mystery.

“Grant, O my God, that my soul may be a little heaven wherein You can rest with delight. In order that I may attain this end, help me to remove everything that might offend Your divine eyes, and then permit me to live always with You in this little heaven. Wherever I am or whatever I do, You never leave me alone; grant that I, too, may always remain with You. At every hour of the day and night, in joy or sorrow, in every work and action, may I always know how to find You within me!

“O my God, Blessed Trinity, be my dwelling, my rest, my Father’s house which I shall never leave. Let me abide in You, not for a few fleeting minutes or hours, but permanently, habitually. May I pray in You, adore in You, love in You, suffer in You, work and act in You alone. Let me remain in You to offer myself to others through You, to attend to all my duties, while always penetrating further into Your divine depths. O Lord, grant that every day I may advance along the path of the abyss that leads me to You, that lets me slide down this slope with a confidence full of love” (cf. St Elizabeth of the Trinity, Letters – First Retreat, 1).”

Love,
Matthew

Cheerfulness cultivates Joy – The Hidden Power of Kindness

Cheerfulness is a very great help in fostering the virtue of charity. Cheerfulness itself is a virtue. Therefore, it is a habit that can and should be acquired.

Cheerfulness is perhaps best represented in the word affability. St. Thomas Aquinas places affability under the general heading of the cardinal virtue of justice, the virtue that prompts us to give to others what is their due under any sense of duty or obligation. You are obliged to help and not hinder others around you in the world on their way toward Heaven. Not only are you to help the needy by your alms, and the erring by your advice, but you are also to help all whom you know or meet by your kindliness, pleasant­ness, and affability of manner.

Cheerfulness of attitude and manner is a great help to those who come into contact with you. If you are a sour, unsociable, gloomy-looking person, you will make people feel uneasy, and you will in­tensify your own temptations to give way to sadness. On the other hand, if you are cheerful, you will lift the spirits of people, invite their confidence, and increase their hope of serving God well.

If you consistently present a gloomy attitude toward life and everybody around you, it may be because you are suffering from a case of self-pity. You let your sorrows and misfortunes overwhelm you. Or you may be prompted by envy to refuse even an effort at being cheerful because you are thinking of the many good things others have that you are denied. Or you may be a victim of your feelings. Temperamentally you may be inclined toward sadness, and you take the position that you should let your temperament rule you.

Avoid false cheerfulness

You are not really cheerful when you lack seriousness when it is time to be serious, so that you cannot give serious attention to the important duties of life. It is dangerous and misguided cheerfulness to make light of your serious sins, to avoid all thoughts of judg­ment and Hell, and to be giddy and distracting to others in church or on other serious occasions. You are not really cheerful when you lack sympathy. It is a great defect of cheerfulness in your character if you cannot sympathize with the sorrows of people, if you avoid people who are suffering, or if you manifest by your attitude that you are not going to permit yourself to be disturbed by their sorrows.

You need not express your cheerfulness by smiles and laughter or jokes and light-minded chatter. In the presence of sorrow, you can adopt a serious mien and show signs of sympathy, but at the same time you can express your cheerfulness in the solid motives for hope, fortitude, and patience that God has provided for all whom He asks to suffer. You will not refuse to permit any of your friends to face facts that are a cause of sorrow, nor will you try to think up exaggerated reasons for not grieving or making light of the grieving of others.

You are not really cheerful if you are cheerful only at times, but at other times give way to sadness and melancholy. This would indicate that you are ruled entirely by your feelings. It would be even worse if you had the habit of being cheerful in the presence of some of your relatives and friends, but gloomy in the presence of others, especially your own family. You cannot afford to have one attitude toward your family and another toward those with whom you mingle outside your home.

You must learn to rise above your feelings, even though the control of feelings is most difficult. There is no hypocrisy in being ruled by the will rather than by the feelings. Try to live up to the ideal of being always the same toward everyone: kindly, affable, sympathetic, encouraging — in a word, cheerful. This ideal will be recognized by all, and you will spread the sunshine of joy around you.

You are not really cheerful if you must depend on dangerous stimulants of one kind or another. Drink is often an escape from reality and makes people boisterous, foolish, and degraded.

There are three important virtues that make people cheerful in the true sense of the word: hope, fortitude, and fraternal charity.

Cheerfulness is founded on hope

Hope is the virtue by which you keep your eyes fixed on Heaven as the goal of your life, made certainly attainable by the merits and promises and fidelity of Jesus Christ. Since you always have something wonderful to look forward to, you are cheerful. Hope is a supernatural virtue infused at Baptism, but it requires ef­fort and repeated actions to become effective.

You cannot be cheerful if you succumb to the vices opposed to hope, such as despair, which is a surrender to the thought that Heaven cannot be attained and that the sufferings of Hell are in­evitable. St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus used to say, “We can never have too much confidence in the good God. He is so mighty, so merciful.”

Worldliness urges people to capture every possible delight here and now. It leads to sadness, because there are no delights in this world that can fully satisfy the human heart.

Worldliness also leads to envy, avarice, impurity, and all such causes of sadness.

Fortitude allows you to face the sorrows of life

Fortitude is a basis for cheerfulness. Fortitude induces you to face the inevitable sorrows of life and, above all, death itself, in the service of God with courage and patience. You will look to the suf­ferings of Christ for inspiration. You will look to the happiness of Heaven with a heart full of hope, and you will count even the greatest sufferings as a small price to pay for that reward. There­fore, try to overcome cowardice, self-pity, and lack of confidence in the goodness of God — faults that prevent you from being cheerful. As a result of these faults, you may find yourself con­stantly grumbling against God and everybody around you because of the sufferings you have to endure.

Do not take yourself too seriously. You have to learn not to be dismayed at making mistakes. No human being can avoid failures.

The important thing is not to let your mistakes and failures gnaw away at you. Regret is an appalling waste of energy. You cannot build on it.

Instead of wasting priceless time and energy in regret or self-reproach, the wise thing is for you to swing into action once more. People give little sympathy to those who feel sorry for themselves. If you experience misfortune, other people will not usually harden their hearts toward you. They have responsibilities to face, tasks to be done, and pleasures to be enjoyed. They expect you to take your troubles in stride and to rebound into the daily round of living. Such expectations are sensible.

When you go forward to grapple with your problems coura­geously and hopefully, you cannot help having a beneficial influ­ence upon other people. Courage and hope are contagious. Spread these virtues among the persons whom you encounter; you will be rendering them and yourself an inestimable service.

Doing good brings joy

By the virtue of charity for the love of God, you love and want to help all your neighbors, especially those whose lives are in some way associated with your own. One way of helping others is by an attitude of cheerfulness.

Joy is the reward of charity. This intimate joy of the soul is dis­tinguished from all other joys by its purity. The joy that is the fruit of charity is abiding. All earthly happiness exhausts itself, except the happiness of a loving heart that knows how to share the joys and sorrows of others. The joy born of charity is one of the few joys that support you at the hour of death.

In the hour of farewell, the divine Master declared that He desired His joy to be in His disciples: “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” Thus your joy at doing good springs from the fountain of Him who is the essence of all love, from the fountain of God. From the waters of joy that flow in the heart of God, fountains of joy will spring up in your heart if you strive to imitate God’s great love in at least a small measure, like the fountains of which our Lord speaks: “The water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

If your heart thirsts for joy, do good to others. You will satisfy your thirst in the fountain of God’s own bliss. You can find your happiness only in possessing God. St. Augustine says, “Our hearts were made for Thee, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in Thee.” You can find happiness in making other people happy if your efforts are motivated by a sincere love of God.”

Love & joy,
Matthew