Our advancement in the spiritual life will be in keeping with the resolutions we make and how we make them. This is why Jesus Christ tells us: Si vis ad vitam...2215Si vis perfectus...2216
Simile of the sun shining on the wall: If it finds the window closed, the light does not enter; if it is slightly ajar or wide open, little or more light enters.
Simile of a great fountain, which fills...
God is infinite... He desires to communicate Himself, and He does so according to the disposition or resolution of the soul.
2. Union with God
MSS Claret XIII, 489-490.
Union with God in this life is attained by means of the three faculties of the soul.
1. Through the memory, always reminding oneself of God, and walking in His presence.
2. Through the understanding, meditating on God’s attributes and on His works.
3. Through the will, loving Him with all our affection. Suffering for love of Him. Doing each thing for God, and doing all things, even the least, with the greatest care and with the purest and most upright intention of pleasing Him.
Think: God is He who is.2217 I am who am not; I am nothing. Through God I have being. God gave it to me, He conserves it for me, He gives me helps.
God loves me and has loved me more than others through the many benefits He has bestowed on me. Amor Dei est causa bonitatis rerum (S[umma] Th [eologica], 1 q. 20 a.3).2218
Suscitans a terra inopem, et de stercore erigens pauperem, ut collocet eum cum principibus, cum principibus populi sui“(Ps 112).2219 Evils from which He has preserved you... Goods which He has granted you... Natural favors... Material favors... Spiritual favors... Non fecit taliter omni nationi (homini).2220Quid retribuam Domino por omnibus quae retribuit mihi? (Ps 115).2221Deus nihil frustra.2222 Redde rationem villicationis tuae.2223
3. [Dependence on God the Father]
MSS Claret XIII, 491-492.
The understanding must recognize that man is nothing, that God has given him being, that He conserves him in being and gives him helps...
Man must be content with this dependence on and need of God. He must be like a palace servant who manages the affairs of the palace and is pleased to be serving his Lord.
Like a poor man, with his one suit of clothes.
A lackey, with the livery of the household.
Like a donkey laden with precious cargo.
Of himself, man has not had, does not have and will not have anything, unless God gives it to him. Therefore the Apostle says that we cannot so much as speak a word nor have a thought without God’s help.2224
We are as dependent on God as sunbeams are on the sun; as a lamp is on the cord that sustains it.
Being happy with this dependence, waiting on God for everything while doing one’s utmost, comes of a good spirit. On the contrary, being irked at this dependence, rejecting it or seeking to be entirely self-sufficient without God’s help,2225 comes from Lucifer. Therefore, not humbling oneself to ask God for anything is overweening2226 and intolerable pride.
God is a Father. He takes delight in doing good things for his children, and is pleased when we come to Him every day and every moment to ask Him for something.
4. [Effects of God’s Presence in the Soul]
MSS Claret II, 419-422.
God is in all things by essence, presence and power.
God is in the soul of the just and dwells therein.
1. Justifying and enlivening it by grace. Ave, gratia plena, Dominus tecum (Lk 1:28).2227 In this first manner, the soul is not aware of His presence.
2. God is in the soul of the just by means of some special consolation or feeling, and then the soul is aware of Him.
Sometimes it has such great joy that it seems it would melt away, either in tears of tenderness or tears of sorrow for having sinned. Just as fire illumines, heats and sets aflame anything combustible, melting minerals to liquid and turning rocks into ashes, so God will sometimes act on the soul. Ignem veni mittere in terram, et quid volo nisi ut accendatur (Lk 12:49).2228
Sometimes God acts on the soul like the sun, which gives light and heat, but also reveals the motes floating in a room. This makes it aware of both God and man. What a distance between them!
Saint Augustine used to beg, Noverim me, noverim te.2229 St. Francis of Assisi used to ask, “Who art Thou and who am I?2230
By this light the soul comes to know the beauty, goodness, omnipotence and other attributes of God, as well as the ignorance, ugliness, malice, misery, ingratitude and other imperfections of man.
By this knowledge the soul desires, in obeisance to God, to undo itself like incense on burning coals. To suffer or else to die, like St. Teresa.2231 To suffer, not to die, like St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi.2232 To suffer and be held in contempt, like St. John of the Cross. 1589.2233
By this knowledge the soul desires to be ranked below all other men and even the demons, like Bl. Michael of the Saints.2234 It desires nothing but humiliations, sufferings and working for the good of God and the neighbor.
It begets a holy inebriation in the soul: Comedite, amici, et bibite, inebriamini, charissimi (Song 5:1).2235 The soul goes outside itself, now in songs, now in preaching, now in seeing all things as impelling it to love God. Coelum, terra et omnia dicunt mihi ut amen Te (St. Augustine).2236
Si quis diligit me, sermonem meum servabit, et Pater meus diliget eum, et ad eum veniemus, et mansionem apud eum faciemus (Jn 14:23).2237
Amans est in amato (S. Th.).2238
Amans est in amato per cognitionem et affectionem (St. Antoninus).2239
On the words, accedite ad eum et illuminamini2240 St. Augustine says that we draw near to Him not with our feet, but with our affections.2241
“Thy kingdom come...” Concerning this, St. Teresa remarks that wherever the King is, there is His Court.
The soul living in grace should feel the pinch of a fault. Woe, if it does not feel it, for it would then be like an unfeeling corpse! (St. Teresa).2242
The silence of St. Catherine (her Life, p. 30).2243
Qui didicerunt a Domino Jesu Christo mites esse et humiles corde, plus cogitando et orando proficiunt, quam legendo et audiendo (St. Augustine, Epistle 147).2244
3. God dwells in the soul of the just by a certain union, as we read in the Apostle, who said: Quis ergo nos separabit a caritate Christi? tribulatio? an angustia? an fames? an nuditas? an periculum? an persecutio? an gladius? (Ad Rom 8:35).
Certus sum enim quia neque mors, neque vita, neque Angeli, neque principatus, neque virtutes, neque instantia, neque futura, neque fortitudo, neque altitudo, nequeprofundum, neque creatura alia poterit nos separare a caritate Dei quae est in Christo Jesu Domino nostro (Id., 29).2245
The temptations of the flesh and of pride are the most dangerous, because they are most directly opposed to the life of the Spirit, says the Ven. Thomas of Jesus.2246
5. [The Presence of Jesus Christ Within Us]2247
MSS Claret XIII, 495-496.
Believe and never forget that God dwells in our heart.
1. Cor contritum et humiliatum, Deus, non despicies (Ps 50:19).2248Cor mundum crea in me, Deus (Ps 50:12).2249
2. Deus cordis mei, et pars mea Deus (in aeternum) (Ps 72:26).2250
3. Christum habitare per fidem in cordibus vestris (Eph 3:17).2251
4. I pray the eternal Father to grant that Christ live in your heart by a living faith and by works; and that you may persevere, in caritate radicati et fundati.2252
5. Donec formetur Christus in vobis (Gal 4:19).2253 As a photograph requires the presence not only of the film, but also of the light, which is grace.
6. Christ will continue being formed in you whenever you unite all your works to Christ in any of these three ways:
1) By sentiment: When Jesus Christ is present to you by sensible devotion, you must unite yourself to Him by sentiment.
2) By disposition: By having the same dispositions that Jesus would have, if He were doing the same works you are doing.
3) By faith alone: By uniting the works you do to those that Jesus did, and then offering them thus united to the Eternal Father (M. Olier, v.1, p. 145).2254
St. Augustine says that he sought God everywhere, yet finally found Him within himself.2255 St. Teresa, Way of Perfection, ch. 28, p. 516.2256
6. [Presence of the Mysteries of Jesus]
MSS Claret II, 156.
I must consider all the stages of the life, passion and death of Jesus as being present, because they are truly so in the mind of God, also because they are present in the love with which Jesus did and suffered them, although the actions themselves are past. Ven. Fr. Thomas of Jesus, p. 19.2257
7. [How to Imitate the Inner Life of Jesus]
MSS Claret XIII, 477-479, 379.
When we pray or meditate on some mystery of the life, passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, we should enter into the interior of Jesus Christ in spirit, in order to share the virtues which He himself practiced in that mystery.
Three main virtues made up the inner life of Jesus.
The first concerned the sovereign majesty of God the Father, and it is called religion.
The second concerned his neighbor. All the interior exercises of Jesus were done for the benefit of man, in order to win his salvation and glory, and this is called his love for the Church.
The third concerned himself. This was his emptying of himself, his sorrow, brokenheartedness and horror at the sins of everyone, with which he was laden in the eyes of God his Father. Jesus had a continual desire to destroy sin; he desired with a great desire to suffer the torments and death of the Cross.
He desired to be laden with all sorts of humiliations, in order to destroy the pride that is in us.
He desired equally to suffer every kind of poverty and privation, in order to destroy our covetousness.
He desired, finally, to endure all kinds of labors, sorrows and afflictions, in order to extinguish in us our love of comforts and pleasures, and also to win more merit for us, thus purging the human race of all sin, as St. Paul says: Purgationem peccatorum faciens (Hebr 1).2258
In all things Jesus did:
1. His motive was the love of God and neighbor.
2. His intention was the greater glory of his Father, and the salvation and glorification of men.
3. His aim was to do his Father’s will.
These three things we must keep ever present in all that we say and do.
And besides these, the inner presence of Jesus seated in our heart.
JHS = Jesus hominum Salvator. Pone me ut signaculum super cor tuum, super brachium tuum; quia fors est ut mors dilectio. 2259
Practice for myself: Continual practice of prayer. Habitual presence of God. Total abandonment to grace. Entire renunciation of my own will. To death with the “I.”
8. Manner in which we are to honor Mary
We should honor Mary Most Holy, as the most excellent of all creatures, and as the first one and as our most powerful advocate. We should honor her in our thoughts, our hearts, with our words and through our works. Mary Mother of Compassion, thinks incessantly about us, loves us, intercedes for us and brings to us all graces; for this reason we, out of gratitude at least, use our spirits, our hearts, our languages and our hands in acts of offering and praise.
We honor Mary Most Holy with our thoughts:
If we take all care to not be distracted when we say prayers and practice devotions as an offering to her.
If we ponder seriously her excellences and perfection.
If we form in ourselves a deep understanding of her as a person, her virtues and her merits. As the will receives all impressions from its understanding, it is clear that we will increasingly love, esteem and honor Mary Most Holy, the more we ponder and know her abilities, virtues and merits. Thus, we should apply ourselves often and with the greatest care to consider her indescribable nobilities, and her incomparable privileges, in order to form in us of Mary Most Holy the highest idea that is possible to us.
We should honor Mary Most Holy with the heart or affection.
We will honor Mary with affection:
If we honor her more than to all the Angels, Saints and other creatures.
If we are gladden for all the graces, virtues and privileges that she has.
If we give thanks to God for the benefits that has given to her.
If we desire with enthusiasm the increase of her veneration and devotion.
If we continuously have great confidence in her maternal kindness.
We honor Mary Most Holy with words.
Speaking often and with veneration of Mary Most Holy, and of her noble virtues.
Bringing others to venerate her, and teaching them Marian devotions.
Seeing that all our vocal prayers are pronounced properly, slowly, with attention and devotion.
For out of abundance of the heart the mouth speaks:2260 in this we will know if we love Mary Most Holy, if we speak about her, if we exhort others to be devoted to her, and if we are careful to say well and often our vocal prayers, and that's why every day we should pray the Rosary, the Hail Mary when the clock strikes; we should invoke her name often using ejaculatory prayers: we should go to her in all moments of danger and need. St. Anselm says: that often we receive help more promptly invoking Mary's name than that of Jesus, not because she is more than Jesus, but because God wants it this way to honor Mary.2261
We should to honor Mary Most Holy with our works...
We honor Mary Most Holy with our works.
If for love of her we abstain from vices, faults, sins, absences and imperfections.
If in her honor we exercise the virtues, e.g. humility, patience, docility, silence, chastity, charity and the other virtues.
If in her honor we fast on Saturdays, vigils of her festivities, or at least if we deprive ourselves of some thing, although small.
If in her honor we receive the holy Sacraments of reconciliation and communion on feast days and first Sundays, etc.
If we have an image of her in our room and greet her when we enter and leave.
If we always carry with us a scapular, medal, rosary, etc.
If we give or lend books that treat of Mary Most Holy.
If we give away pictures of Mary Most Holy, medals, rosaries, scapulars.
If we give alms to the poor.
If we visit the sick.
If we try in everything to imitate her virtues.
Entrust to me to Mary...
Anthony Mary Archbishop of Trajanópolis.2262
9. Priestly Zeal
MSS Claret X, 419-422.
For himself, a priest should have the understanding and heart of a prosecutor and judge.
For his neighbor, the heart of a mother.2263
Ah, how few priests there are who weep like the Widow of Naim2264 over the death of their children! (Life of Ven. Avila, p. 191).2265
A priest should have all the qualities of a good mother:
A mother does.
A mother suffers.
A mother prays, pleads and makes vows to God and to the Blessed Virgin.
A mother weeps, and the widow’s tears won the raising up of her son;2266 the Canaanite woman’s tears won the healing of her daughter;2267 and St. Monica’s tears won the conversion of her son.2268
A mother is a mysterious being. She has two natures:
Situated between father and child, a mother shares in the condition of both. She has the intelligence of the man and the delicacy of the child.
Like a father, she can command; like a child, she must obey.
A mother has a special mission which is all affection and love. She awakens the intelligence of her son, yet she babbles to him. A mother leads her son to know his father, as well as other persons and things. A mother teaches her son to speak and talk; she educates him and forms his heart.
A mother feeds, clothes, cleans and cares for her son.
A mother wins a father’s attention and love for his son.
A mother performs the role of mediator between father and son.
A mother’s love is tender, ingenious and constant. The more sacrifices and tears her children cost her, the more she loves them. Look at the way Moses dealt with his people.2269
A mother’s love never fails. The greater the danger, the more active, energetic and intrepid she becomes. Like a man, like a lion, she takes on dangers. She would cast herself into flames, rivers or seas to save her children.
A mother is the martyr of the family. She carries her child for nine months in her womb, and after that, for ten, twenty or thirty years and more in her heart. Her son may be ever so far away, whether in the missions or in the military, yet a mother always thinks of her son, prays for him, and constantly talks about him.
A good priest should have all these qualities of a mother. Woe to him who does not have them! In that case he should rather be called a wicked stepmother, a bad priest!2270
* * *
For God, he should have the heart of a son and a spouse:
A son acts, works and suffers, not as a slave or a servant, but as a good son who loves his father dearly, so as to please him and never displease him even in the slightest matter.
He is hurt when anything bad befalls his father, and is happy over any benefit he gains. He does his will promptly and gladly. He is ready to lay down his life in order to save the life, goods and honor of his Father.
* * *
A spouse. Sponsabo te mihi in fide (Hos 2:19).2271 A spouse desires to please her husband, is clever at foreseeing what might please him, tries to avoid the least thing that might displease him, and is pierced to the quick if she commits some fault that might cool his love for her.
She lives only for her husband. His absence afflicts her, and only the hope of his return comforts her.
She is keenly interested in his glory and in everything that pertains to him.
She derives inexplicable pleasure from hearing him praised, and from seeing him honored and respected. Likewise, she resents any outrage or even the slightest insult he receives.
She never tires of seeing him, talking with him or hearing him speak.
These properties of the love of a good son and a good spouse should be applicable to any soul who loves God.
10. Love of God
MSS Claret XIII, 177.
All our riches, all our goods, consist of LOVE. This, no one can take away from me. Neither thieves nor hardships. Love lasts forever.2272 St Paul: Quis nosseparabit...2273
In some way, God himself respects it. Son, give me your heart.2274 If you will. If you will.
When the will wants something, it commands the understanding to search for reasons and motives to enamor it more and more of that thing, and to love it with greater intensity. It commands the lips to ask God for grace.
MSS Claret XIII, 245-246.
To love is to cherish the beloved.
The soul that loves lives more in the one she loves, than in her own soul.
Where the object of her love – a lover’s only treasure – lies, there lies her heart.
One who truly loves Jesus lives more in Jesus than in him-self, as St. Paul says: I live, now not I, but Christ lives in me.2275
Love is like fire, which turns everything combustible into fire. He who truly loves Jesus, turns everything he does, says, thinks and suffers, into love.
Love is as strong as death.2276 Death despoils us of riches, honors and the taste for all things of sense. He who loves Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, is not attached to any of these things, which are so dearly loved in the world. If need be, he will sacrifice them all in deference to his Beloved.
He who truly loves seizes every opportunity to manifest his love by offering sacrifices to the beloved, and the greatest proof that he can give is to suffer death itself for the sake of the beloved.2277 This is what Jesus Christ did, to prove the great love He has for us.
He who loves Jesus, says: Life to Jesus! Death to Barabbas (the threefold lust, which is the love of riches, honors and pleasures)! It is like a scales: on one side of the balance stands Jesus; on the other, everything else in the world.
When one comes to know Jesus, His excellencies and perfections, and has, moreover, the helps and grace He gives, he runs after Jesus, and the things of this world vanish.
12. [Sonship and Self-Gift]
MSS Claret II, 77-78.
Son, give me your heart.2278
This heart is from God, who created it, conserves it and has redeemed it. He asks it of His creatures, and wants to receive it from our hands. All is subject to the law and sway of the heart.
The heart is not given merely by word and in a general way, but in deed and in every particular detail: self-love, comfort, reputation, time, life, everything... Shall I allow myself to be deprived of all things?
He asks me for all my heart.
And I will not be giving it all if I love myself; if I love any other thing, whether it be comforts, honors..., or faults, even slight ones; if I resist the Holy Spirit.2279
He asks me for my whole heart and for ever.
He does not ask me for the loan of it, but for the gift of it (there is a great difference between what is given and what is merely lent...). In prayer, in communion, in a moment of fervor, many lend their heart to God; but afterwards..., they love themselves and take it back. In words they give themselves to God, but in deeds they treat themselves as their own.
I must do as the Apostle did: I live, now not I, but Christ lives in me.2280 Like St. Agnes.
13. [Spiritual Childhood]2281
MSS Claret II, 76, 409-410.
Nisi efficiamini sicut parvuli…2282
A child in innocence, a little one in humility, an infant in silence, tender in charity, in detachment, in forgetting wrongs, in loving one’s mother.2283
Spiritus noster fiat coram Deo tanquam parvulus et mendicus spirtualis cum et ipse Deus parvulus natus sit nobis2284 (Gerson, Compendium, p. 130).2285
A poor child, who begs alms of God, of Jesus, of Blessed Mary, of the Angels and Saints in heaven, and of the just on earth.
A naked child, bereft of the clothing of the virtues.
A ragamuffin child, clad in the tatters of defects.
A mangy child, blotched with thoughts of vanity.
A babbling child, who does not know how to speak.
A child silent in prayer but talkative in everything else.
A child once white and crowned with roses; but now, alas...!2286
A little black child who serves the white and ruddy Child Jesus.2287
Parvulus enim natus est nobis, et filius datus est nobis: et factus est principatus super humerum ejus (Isa 9). 2288
Et erat subditus illis (Luc).2289
Proficiebat sapientia, aetate, et gratia apud Deum et homines (Lk 2:52).2290 And you? Alas, like a little donkey.
I would not give children coins of great worth, because they would only fritter them away.
But I, too, fritter away the benefits God has given me. From now on, I will do as St. Francis of Assisi did, and tell God to hold the good he might do in safekeeping, lest he lose it. As children ask their parents to keep what is given them, lest they lose it.
I shall be persuaded that in spiritual matters I am an orphaned, poor, poor, ragged, scabby, leprous, cross-eyed child, mute about good things, a babbler about vanities, capricious, willful, rickety, lame, humpbacked, runny-nosed, drooling, dirty, mangy, repugnant, ungrateful, ill-tempered, ill-educated, ignorant, foolish and malicious.
Woe is me! For unless I become like the Child Jesus, I shall not enter the Kingdom of heaven!2291
Delitiae meae esse cum filiis hominum.2292
My delight is to think on God and to love God, Jesus Christ and Blessed Mary.
I love you, my God, for you are the highest good.
14. [On Prayer and Meditation]
MSS Claret II, 157.
In each and every point of the meditation, one must exercise oneself in three things:
1. Humility, which comes from the knowledge of one’s misery and of the sins one has committed.
2. Total and perpetual offering and commitment of oneself into God’s hands.
3. A great desire to imitate Jesus and Mary in all the virtues. Ven. Thomas of Jesus, p. 14.2293
MSS Claret II, 411-416.
In every sin, the will goes before.2294 And the root principle of an evil will is pride. The soul pretends to be its own principle, setting aside the Principle with Whom it should be united. This happens when it is overly pleased with itself. Scotus calls this sort of self-complacency spiritual lust.2295
It would do me no good to be chaste in body, if I were not also chaste in soul. For the sake of chastity, I abstain from every unclean thought, word and deed, and of glancing, listening, etc. I shall do the same for chastity of soul. I shall dismiss as soon as possible every thought or complacency concerning myself. I shall not say or listen to any words in praise of myself, nor shall I perform any works in order to be praised or to be held wise or virtuous...
I shall say inwardly: Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, se nomini tuo da gloriam.2296
When I am slandered, abased, etc., I shall be silent like Jesus.2297 I shall simply say: Bonum mihi quia humiliasti me.2298
I shall refer all things to God and be well pleased in Him: cor meum et caro mea exultaverunt in Deum vivum.2299
Myself: nothingness, nature, miseries, sins, grace and charity.
Nothingness is nothing.
Nature is the being and nature God has given me and con-serves for me.
Miseries, I have inherited from my parents.
Sins, I have committed.
Grace is a sharing in God’s being, like a little cloud on which the sun shines.
Charity is a sharing in God’s doing, through union with God. Like an arm joined to the body: blood circulates through it, and it has movement and strength through its union with the body. Woe to that man who separates himself from God through pride and spiritual lust, who is self-complacent. Then he is like an amputated arm, a branch lopped off from the vine!
A vain man is like a peacock. When people whistle at him, he puffs up his feathers and responds with ill-sounding shrieks. When people praise a vain and proud man, he becomes smugly self-complacent, puffed up, and begins to crow; and nothing sounds worse than singing one’s own praises.
I, for my own part, am nothing, vanity and wickedness.
I shall imagine that I am a picture on which God has painted his own image and likeness.2302 Standing before it, I shall take a long look at this picture, and give thanks to God, quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est, et sanctum nomen ejus.2303
Then I shall look behind the painting, where my own likeness lurks, in the same way I looked at the front, where God’s likeness is. On the back of a portrait one finds nothing but laths and tacks, sustaining a blotched piece of canvas. The laths are my defects, the tacks are my imperfections, the canvas is my life, and the blotches are my good works, for as God says, our just works are like the rag of a menstruating woman.2304
I shall regard everyone else as so many pictures and portraits done by God. I shall look at the front side of them, and esteem and venerate them. I shall look at the back of my own portrait, and I shall humble and scorn it. In them, I shall always look for the good qualities, but in myself, for the bad ones.
The way St. Francis used to regard others.
Noverim Te, noverim me! Ut amem te, et ut contemnam me (St. Augustine).2305
1. God is He who is... He is the most perfect Being... .2306 The beginning and end of all things.2307
2. I am he who once was not... Of myself I am nothing... I am but dust and ashes,2308 and even those are lent me. Of myself I am less than nothing; for nothingness is without malice and has not sinned, whereas I was conceived in sin,2309 born in sin, and have fallen into sin many times.
3. If there is anything good in me, it is from God. Through the grace of God and the merits of Jesus Christ, I am what I am.2310 Through grace I am a Christian, a Priest, an Archbishop....
4. In myself, I shall look at my nothingness and my sins... And in my neighbors, I shall regard neither their nothingness nor their sins, but rather the graces that God has reposed in them, e.g., strength, wisdom and other graces. Children of God, images of God, redeemed by Jesus Christ and destined for heaven.
If some of them should slander, persecute or mistreat me, I shall not complain of them. Rather, I shall consider myself beholden and indebted to them. I shall commend them to God and do all the good that I can do for them.2311
I shall regard them as my teachers, physicians and surgeons, who teach and heal me, and as envoys of my heavenly Father. Jesus saw, in those who came to arrest him, the chalice sent him by his heavenly Father, and therefore he told St. Peter: Calicem quem dedit mihi Pater, non bibam illud? (Jn 18:11).2312 And Jesus told Pilate: Non haberes potestatem adversus me ullam, nisi tibi datum esset desuper (Jn 19:11).2313
16. [Science of the Passion]
MSS Claret XIII, 709-711.
How we are to bear the sufferings and labors of this life by imitating Jesus and Mary.
It ordinarily happens among us children of Adam that we become so impatient under persecution, so irritated by insults, so upset with sufferings, so troubled and discouraged at every adversity, and so ill-humored toward those who have offended us, that we think it a great accomplishment if we do not take revenge on them. But the love of our Divine Master was not undone by the insults He bore during his passion, nor was it worn out at the sight of his disciples’ ignorance and later, their disloyalty (Mystical City of God, vol. 5, p. 165).2314
This science [of the passion of Jesus] filled the most pure heart of his loving Mother with bitter sorrow. But as she was the living and most exact image of her beloved Son, she bore it all with patience. She did not allow it to trouble or alter her, nor did it prevent her from consoling and instructing the holy women who stood by her. Rather, without leaving the heights of understanding that she was receiving, she inwardly came down to their level to instruct and encourage them with salutary counsels and words of everlasting life. O may we imitate this admirable Mistress and more than merely human exemplar! How true it is, that our poor store pales in comparison with that great treasure-house of grace and light. But it is likewise true that our sufferings and sorrows seem almost nothing in comparison with hers, since she alone suffered more than all the children of Adam put together. Yet even as we strive to imitate her for our own eternal good, we seem unable to learn how to suffer patiently the least adversity that befalls us. Everything upsets and alters us: we pull a long face; we give vent to our passions, angrily resist and chafe under sadness; we abandon reason and docility; all our evil impulses are astir and we find ourselves at the very brink. Even prosperity weakens and undoes us; we can place no reliance on our sickly and stained nature. On such occasions, let us call our divine Mistress to mind, in order to correct our disorders (Ven. Agreda, vol 5., p. 169).
17. Mortification [Value of the Cross]
MSS Claret XIII, 713-714; II, 257-258.
My son, you know the value of the Holy Cross, as well as the honor it bestows on trials and tribulations. Embrace the cross and bear it joyfully in following my Son and your Master. Let your glory, in this mortal life, be persecution, contempt, illness, tribulation, poverty, humiliation, and whatever is painful and adverse to your fleshly condition. And if you would imitate and please me in all your practices, I would prefer that you seek neither ease nor rest in any earthly thing. You should not weigh within yourself what your are suffering or manifest it to others with a desire to alleviate it. Still less should you embroider or enlarge on the persecutions or annoyances that creatures may cause you, or let others hear you complain how much you are suffering, comparing it with what your fellow workers are undergoing. I am not saying that it is a fault to take some seemly and moderate relief or to complain inwardly under suffering; but in you, my son, such relief would be an infidelity to your Master and Lord. For he has been so much more obliging to you alone than to many generations, that your correspondence with Him by doing, suffering and loving, does not allow for any defect or unburdening of yourself, unless it were done with the fullest finesse and loyalty. This same Lord wants you to be so finely attuned to Him, that you must not so much as heave a sigh out of natural frailty, if you have no higher aim in doing so than merely resting or taking comfort. However, should love spur you on, you should let yourself be borne by its sweet power to take your rest in loving. But then the love of the cross will lead you to dismiss this relief, as you know that I did, in humble offering.
Let it become a general rule for you that every human consolation is an imperfection and a danger. And you should permit yourself only such consolation as your Master and Highest Lord may send you, either of Himself or through his Angels. And you must receive the gifts that come from His divine hand with the understanding that they are given in order to strengthen you for further suffering, and to wean you from those likings that might affect your sensitive inclinations (Ven. Agreda, vol. 5, p. 317).
For the good of your reputation you must strive to attain:
Outwardly, modesty and recollection; inwardly, continual and ardent occupation with God; patience, silence and suffering in your works, fulfilling the laws and obligations of your state, as God commands. Do good to all, flee sin and practice virtue.
If you do this, even though you do not seek honor, you will find it, and wicked tongues will be confounded. Look to Jesus and consider how he bore himself in the face of the false witness that was brought against him.2315
In every disagreeable, painful and humiliating thing that may befall you, consider that it comes from God, and address yourself to Him in silence and in conformity to His will.
Not a hair of your head may fall without God’s willing it.2316
Complaining: like holding a money bag upside down.2317
Boasting about good works: like the hen who cackles when she lays an egg.2318
Three hundred years of faithful service to God are more than repaid by one hour of suffering he allows you to bear, so great is its worth.
The man who is distressed, persecuted, crucified with outer works and inner crosses and abandonment, yet suffers in silence and perseveres in love: this is the man You love and are pleased with; this is that just man whom You most esteem (Thomas of Jesus, vol. 2, p. 619).2319
Never be eager to exonerate yourself, for you will be the loser in the eyes of both God and men. The truths and reason you allege will become arms that can be turned against you.
Believe that everything comes from God and that He desires to receive this tribute from you: that for love of Him you should suffer in body, soul and honor, and for the offenses that are committed against Him.
See to it that your pride is cloaked over by the greater glory of God. Ah! But this will mean that you must suffer, be silent and die, setting your hope not on this world, but on the world to come. Here, you must die on the Cross like Jesus, abandoned by all (ibid., p. 651).
18. [An Offering to Suffer]2320
MSS Claret XII, 665-666; X, 87.
Eternal God Most High, I, a vile worm and poor man whom Jesus and his Most Holy and Virginal Mother have deigned to choose as minister – to teach catechism, how to hear Mass, to recite the Rosary and receive the sacraments of Penance and Communion, and to preach God’s Holy Law throughout the world – prostrate myself in your divine presence with a humble, yielded and ready heart. And in order to fulfill your eternal and holy will, I offer myself, to suffer and to sacrifice my life in confessing your holy faith by teaching and preaching it throughout the world. I do not wish to spare myself any work, trouble or tribulation that I may have to suffer for this work, including death itself. But mistrusting my own frailty, I beseech you, my Lord and God, to send upon me your Holy Spirit, to enlighten and set me afire with divine love, and to guide, send and govern me along the straight path of my divine Master Jesus Christ and of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, whom I desire to serve and please, both here on earth and later there in heaven for all eternity. Amen.
O Lord, I offer myself to suffer and to die, following my Redeemer and Master, preaching his holy name and faith.
A reminder that Anthony Claret frequently repeats to himself:
A son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a man who sets fire wherever he goes. He desires mightily and strives by all means possible to set the whole world ablaze with the fire of God’s love. Nothing or nobody daunts him: he delights in privations, tackles works, embraces sacrifices, is happy in the midst of whatever slanders are raised against him, rejoices in the torments and sorrows he suffers, and glories in the Cross of Jesus Christ.2321 His only thought is how he may follow Jesus more closely and imitate Him in praying,2322 working, suffering and striving always and only for the greater glory of God and the good of souls.2323
Long live Jesus!
19. [Inner Peace]2324
MSS Claret II, 161, 164.
The thing I should strive for most of all is inner peace.
And so, I shall not become annoyed, or speak out, or pull a long face, or show that I am pained by what people say about me. Let them act against me. Come what may. Nothing happens by chance, but all is arranged by God.
Domine, quid me vis facere?2325
Ad maiorem Dei gloriam (see Rodríguez, pt. 1, tr. 5, ch. 14).2326
“Love is strong as death.”2327
St. Stephen, unwavering in the midst of so many enemies, always kept peace in his heart and serenity on his countenance. To all present who gazed on him, his face was like that of an angel.2328 Thus God chose to show, through this outer splendor, the inner beauty and innocence of his soul (Croisset, December 26th).2329
When Blessed Mary lost her Most Holy Son, she did not lose either inner or outer peace, nor did she have even a single angry or spiteful thought (Mystical City of God, vol. 4, p. 249).
20. Resolution and Reflection [on Zeal]
MSS Claret II, 423-424.
1. I shall always strive after an increase in the accidental glory of God. This increase consists of bringing men to obey and love God ever more and more, since it is for this that He has created us and keeps us in being.
2. The stars and the elements put us to shame, for they all obey and keep the Law of God, who created and conserves them. Yet men do not wish to obey God or keep His law, although He has also created them and conserves them and has placed them in a position of greater advantage. What ingrates they are!!!
3. The sun, moon, planets, comets and other heavenly bodies keep God’s law punctually. But men neither keep nor care to keep the law that He himself has dictated to them.
4. The elements, too, have their law and observe it with all exactness. Water’s law is to be wet, and it is always wet; fire’s law is to give heat, and it always heats; weight’s law is to tend toward its center, and it always tends there. But men... Ah!.
What disorder would reign if all these other things did not keep their law? Yet see, a like disorder overtakes those men who do not keep the law that God has given them: unhappy in this life, they will be unhappy for all eternity in the next. Come, then: let us obey God, let us love God, let us keep His law and exhort all others to do the same. May they keep God’s Law and be conformed to His divine will.
The voice of the universe cries out: Man, obey God as I do!
The voice of the universe cries out: Man, love God! Coelum, terra, et omnia dicunt mihi, ut amem te (St. Augustine).2330
Domine, quid me vis facere?2331
Paratum cor meum, paratum cor meum2332
Dilectus meus mih , et ego illi (Song 2). Alleluia.2333
Blessed and praised be God. Blessed and praised be the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Blessed and praised be Mary, the Mother of God and my Mother. Long live Jesus! Long live Mary!.
21. [Notes on the Conversion of Sinners]
MSS Claret XIII, 501-504.
Before the Incarnation of the Word, the Lord God gave the Blessed Virgin Mary to understand the desire He had to remedy the lot of humankind, so that afterwards she, as Mother and Advocate of sinners, might intercede for them.
Mary Most Holy shared in God’s love for men and in His desire to reconcile them.
So great was this love of hers that, had it been necessary, she would have handed herself over countless times to fire, sword and the most exquisite torments, and even to death itself. She would have borne all martyrdoms, anguishes, tribulations and illnesses. And not only would she not have refused any of them, but would have accepted all of them gladly, for the remedy, relief, conversion and sanctification of souls.
Things necessary for the conversion of sinners:
The grace of God.
The merits of Jesus Christ.
The intercession of the Saints.
The cooperation of men.
Comparison: a field. If a field is to yield a crop, it must be tilled and sown, after which God must send favorable weather. So, too, the human race must be tilled by the holy work of zeal. The ingratitude and sins of men are an obstacle and hindrance to the graces and helps that God sends for the conversion of sinners.
They are debts that must be paid, and if sinners do not pay them, then the just should pay them through their intention and charity.
Sinners are defaulters. They do not pay God the tribute of love, honor and acknowledgement that they owe Him. They neither pray, nor hear Mass, nor receive the Sacraments.
The just, for their part, will fulfill all their obligations with full uprightness and purity of intention, and with the full force of their will. Moreover, out of devotion and charity they will do all else that can be done. They will avail themselves of the merits of Jesus Christ, and of the intercession of Mary Most Holy, the Angels and Saints.
Sinners go off after their idols, which are riches, honors and pleasures.
The just love poverty, privations, humiliations and mortifications.
Comparison with scales: The wicked place their sins in one balance, while the just place their prayers and good works in the other, until the scales tip in favor of the human race.
Thus good souls should be exhorted to pray, to practice mortification and to do good works.