The Month of Mary, May 17, 2018

Adapted from “The Month of Mary according to the Spirit of Saint Francis de Sales” by Don Gasper Gilli, from the The Saint Francis de Sales Collection [16 Books]  Catholic Way Publishing. Kindle Edition.

17 May, 2018

MARY, THE MODEL OF PERFECT OBEDIENCE, IN THE MYSTERY OF THE PURIFICATION 

Let us consider in this meditation how our adorable Saviour and His Most Holy Mother united perfect obedience to profound humility. Our Lord preferred the death of the Cross rather than fail in obedience.  ‘Jesus Christ’ says the great Apostle,  ‘was obedient unto death, even to the death of the Cross’.

Notice Our Lady’s life, and you will always see her obedient. So highly did she esteem this virtue of obedience, that she obeyed the command to espouse St. Joseph, although she was bound by a vow of virginity. She always persevered in the practice of this virtue, and as the mystery of the Purification shows us, she presented herself in the Temple, that she might observe the Law she was not bound to observe. Thus her obedience was the more precious as it was voluntary. Indeed, this is the only virtue that she has recommended to the practice of mankind.

The Gospel tells us that when she spoke to the attendants at the marriage of Cana, she said to them: ‘ Whatsoever He shall say to you, do’.  Here she teaches the practice of holy obedience, which is inseparable from the virtue of humility, because obedience springs from the virtue of humility. Only those who are truly humble subject themselves to the Will of God, Our Lady had no fear of being disobedient, because she was not obliged to obey the Law, but she shunned its very shadow. Many would have misunderstood her conduct, if she had not gone to the Temple to offer her Divine Son and perform the ceremony of her Purification. She would, therefore, remove all suspicion of disobedience, and at the same time teach us not merely to avoid sin, but also its very appearance, and the occasions which may expose us to it. Continue reading “The Month of Mary, May 17, 2018”

The Abundance of our Redemption

Another beautiful meditation from St. Francis de Sales for our Lenten readings.

ABUNDANCE OF OUR REDEMPTION

God clearly foresaw that the first man would abuse his liberty, and that forsaking grace he would lose glory, but He did not wish to treat human nature so rigorously as He decreed to treat the angelic. It was of human nature He had determined to take a blessed piece, to unite it to His divinity. He saw that it was a feeble nature, a wind which passeth and returneth not, that is to say, which is dissipated as it goes.

He had regard to the surprise of the assault which the malicious and perverse Satan made on the first man, and to the greatness of the temptation which ruined him. He saw that the whole race of men would perish by the fault of a single one. For these reasons, He looked upon our nature in pity, and resolved to receive it to mercy. The devil had taken us away from our natural Lord,  though he had no title to us, yet Our Lord redeemed us, redeemed what was His own, to make us more His own, if more His own we could be.

St. Paul says: “You are bought with a great price.” What is this price? He redeemed us with the blood of the Lamb; He pardoned not His own Son, but delivered Him to death for us. That the sweetness of His mercy might be adorned by the beauty of His justice, He resolved to save man by means of a rigorous redemption, which no one being able to make except His own Son, He appointed that He should redeem men, not merely by one of His loving actions, which would have been more than sufficient to redeem a thousand millions of worlds, but by all the innumerable loving actions and dolorous sufferings He would perform and endure even to death, and the death of the cross, to which He destined Him; wishing that thus He should become the companion of our miseries in order to make us the companions of His glory hereafter; showing in this manner the riches of His goodness by a redemption copious, abundant, magnificent, and excessive, which acquired, and, as it were, reconquered for us all the means necessary to attain to glory; so that no person can ever complain as if the divine mercy were wanting to him.

The least drop of Our Lord’s blood was of infinitely more value than we, and nevertheless, to make us more His own, He wished to shed it all. Who will doubt the abundance of our means of salvation, since we have so great a Saviour, in consideration of whom we have been created, and by the merits of whom we have been redeemed? For He died for all, because all were dead, and His mercy has been more salutary to redeem the race of man, than the misfortune of Adam was venomous to destroy. And so far from the sin of Adam having exceeded, it has, on the contrary, rather excited, the Divine Goodness, which, by a sweet and loving contention, being invigorated by the presence of its adversary, and massing, as it were, all its forces for victory, has made grace superabound where iniquity had abounded.

Thus, holy Church, in an excess of admiration, cries out on the eve of Easter: “O truly necessary sin of Adam, which has been blotted out by the death of Jesus Christ! O happy fault, which merited such and so great a Redeemer!”

Certainly we can say with one of the ancients: we were lost if we had not been lost; that is to say, our loss has been to our gain, since, in fact, human nature has received more graces by the redemption of its Saviour, than it would ever have received by the innocence of Adam, if he had persevered in it. Though the Divine Providence has left in man, along with the grace of its mercy, several striking marks of its severity, such as, for example, the necessity of death, the pains of sickness, the obligation of labor, the rebellion of sensuality, yet the celestial clemency, rising above these, takes pleasure in turning every misery to the greater advantage of those who love it, making patience spring up from labor, contempt of the world from the necessity of death, and a thousand victories from concupiscence; . . .

“The angels have more joy in Heaven,” says the Saviour, “for one sinner that does penance, than for ninety-nine just who need not penance.” And in like manner, the state of redemption is a hundred times better than that of innocence. Through the sprinkling of the blood of Our Lord, made with the hyssop of the cross, we have been restored to a whiteness incomparably more excellent than that of the snow of innocence: coming forth, like Naaman, from the river of salvation, purer and cleaner than if we had never been defiled, in order that the Divine Majesty might not be overcome by evil, but might overcome evil with good, and that His mercies might be exalted over all His works.

Saint Francis de Sales. The Saint Francis de Sales Collection [16 Books] (Kindle,  Catholic Way Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Please, Pray the Rosary and confound satan and those who serve him!

. Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.
. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy kingdom come! Viva Cristo Rey!
. Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.
. St. Joseph, protect us, protect our families, protect our priests.
. St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.

Please pray for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary!

~ by evensong for love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, King.
Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin! Give me strength against thine enemies!

The Love of Jesus in His Passion

Today we offer a brief meditation by St. Francis de Sales for our Lenten reading.

THE  LOVE  OF  JESUS  IN  HIS  PASSION

The Eternal Father so loved the world that He gave it His only Son, and the Son so loved the will of His Father, who desired the salvation of human nature, that, without taking into account the meanness or contemptibleness of the thing, He willingly offered a prodigious price for its ransom, namely, His blood, His toils, and His life.

Thus Our Saviour, through love, devoted Himself to the will of His Father and to the redemption of the world. He advanced in every mystery of His Passion, saying: ‘O my Father, this loved human nature would be sufficiently redeemed by one of my tears, but that would not suffice for the reverence which I owe to Thy will and to my love. I wish, besides my agony in the Garden of Olives, to be scourged, to be crowned with thorns, to have my body reduced to ruins, and to become as a leper, without form or beauty.’

Thus the sweet Jesus was scourged, crowned, condemned, mocked, and rejected as man, devoted, destined, and dedicated to carry out and endure the opprobriums and ignominies due in punishment to all sins, and He served as a general sacrifice for sin, being made as it were an anathema, separated from and abandoned by His Eternal Father. The Divine Saviour wished to die in the flames of love, because of the infinite charity He bore towards us, and by the force and power of love; that is to say, He would die in love, by love, for love, and of love.

This is what He Himself says: “No one takes away My life, but I lay it down of Myself, for I have power to lay it down and to take it up again.” And: “He was offered,” says Isaias, “because He wished it.” His body being by right immortal and impassible, on account of the glory of His soul, He rendered it, through love and by a miracle, mortal and passible. He wished, even after His death, to have His side opened, that we might see the thoughts of His heart, which were all thoughts of love, and that we might go to Him with confidence, in order to hide ourselves in His side, and to receive from Him an abundance of graces and benedictions.

In this manner, from the first moment of His life until the present hour, has the kind Jesus been continually drawing arrows, if we may so speak, from the quiver of His love, with which to wound the souls of His lovers, showing them clearly that they can never love Him near so much as He deserves. My God, could He show more love to sinners than to become a perfect holocaust for their sins?

Ah! If we could see the Heart of Jesus such as it is, we should die of love for Him, since we are mortal, as He died of love for us, while He was mortal, and as He would die again, if He were not now immortal. Nothing has so much power to wound a loving heart as to see another heart wounded for love of it. Oh! That Our Lord would change hearts with us, as He did with St. Catherine of Siena, in such a manner that we might have no other heart but His, no other will but His, no other affection or desire but to love Him and to be wholly His.

Bees never wound without being wounded to death. Seeing, then, the Saviour of our souls wounded with love for us, even to death and the death of the cross, shall not we be wounded with love for Him, and with a wound most lovingly dolorous? Never, indeed, can we love Him so much as His love and His death deserve. Ah! If my soul is the spouse of Jesus crucified and suffering, I ought, during my whole life, to regard it as a great favor to wear His livery, that is to say, the nails, the thorns, and the lance.

Remember, my soul, that the banquet of His nuptials is prepared of gall and vinegar; seek not for pleasure or joy in this world. It is too great an honor, O King of Glory, to drink with Thee the chalice of sorrow; may it never happen to me to refuse this draught, because, O God, says David, it is the beverage of thy beloved!

The image of Jesus Christ bruised, wounded, pierced, crushed, crucified, has always been a beautiful mirror of love, into which the angels and saints could never cease to gaze, enraptured with sweetness and overflowing with consolation. And if the picture of Abraham, wielding the sword of death over his dear and only son, had power to make the great St. Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, weep as often as he contemplated it, how much more ought the image of Our Lord, sacrificing Himself on the cross, to move us: a sacrifice which is the source of all the graces we have ever received, and of all our holy resolutions, in such a manner that through it alone we preserve, fortify, and accomplish them?

Since, then, Our Lord has so much loved us, that He has equally redeemed all, bedewed us with His divine blood, and called us to Himself, without excluding anyone; since He has become all ours, to make us all His, giving us His death and His life to deliver us from eternal death and to procure us the joys of eternal life, that we may belong to Him in this mortal life and yet more perfectly in the next; what remains, what conclusion have we to draw, unless that living we should no longer live for ourselves, but for Jesus Christ who died for us; that is, we should consecrate to Him every moment of our life, referring to His glory our works, our thoughts, and our affections?

My soul, live henceforward amid the scourges and the thorns of thy Saviour, and there, as a nightingale in its bush, sing sweetly: “Live Jesus, who didst die that my soul might live! Ah, Eternal Father! What can the world return Thee for the present Thou hast made it of Thy only Son? Alas! To redeem a thing so vile as I, the Saviour delivered Himself to death, and, unhappy me! I hesitate to surrender my nothingness to Him who has given me everything.”

The Saint Francis de Sales Collection [16 Books for $1.99] (Kindle Locations 32703-32751). Catholic Way Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Dear readers, Our Lord suffers so greatly during this time of the Passion of His Bride, the Church! Let’s not allow ourselves to become disheartened, but instead redouble our efforts to behold Him bravely as did Our most Blessed Mother and offer up our own small sufferings in reparation for sins, for the conversion of sinners and for the triumph of the Immaculate heart of Mary in the Consecration of Russia.

Please, Pray the Rosary and confound satan and those who serve him!

. Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.
. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy kingdom come! Viva Cristo Rey!
. Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.
. St. Joseph, protect us, protect our families, protect our priests.
. St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.

Please pray for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary!

~ by evensong for love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, King.
Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin! Give me strength against thine enemies!

St Francis de Sales in Lent 2018

A reader’s comment mentioned St. Francis de Sales,  and that set me to looking  through our draft archives. Sure enough, I found this unfinished post which  may not be all that it could have been , but hope it will suffice:

I was won over to St. Francis de Sales when I obtained a battered paperback copy of his “Introduction to the Devout Life” for 25 cents in the parish church thrift shop many  years ago, and recently have been reading an ebook of his as part of my Lenten reading.  “The Saint Francis de Sales Collection, 16 Books”, by Catholic Way)

Here are some excerpts from this great Saint:

A Time of Fear
What words can oppose the flood of thoughts troubling your heart? Do not attempt to stop them; that will only make the pain worse. Do not try to conquer the temptations; the effort will only make them stronger. Disdain them, and do not dwell on them. Bring to mind an image of Jesus Christ crucified and say, “Here is my hope; here is the flowing fountain of my happiness. Here is the heart of my soul and the soul of my heart.” Hear our Lord say to Abraham and to you: “Be not afraid; I am your protector” (cf. Gen. 15:1). What is it that you seek upon the earth other than your God? And you already possess Him.

Be firm in your resolutions. Stay in the boat. Let the storm come. While Jesus lives, you will not die. He is sleeping, but He will awaken to calm the storm at the right time (Matt. 8:24-26). St. Peter, the Scriptures tell us, saw the great storm and was afraid, and as soon as he was afraid, he began to sink and drown. Whereupon he cried out, “O Lord, save me!” And our Lord took him by the hand and said to him, “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matt. 14:29-31). See this great apostle: he walked with dry feet upon the water, protected from wind and wave, but the fear of the wind and the wave would have killed him had not his Master relieved him.

(In that way) Fear is a greater evil than evil itself. O you of little faith: what is it you fear? Do not be afraid. You are walking on water, amid wind and wave, but you are with Jesus. What is there to fear? If fear takes hold of you, cry out strongly, “O Lord, save me!” He will hold out a hand to you. Hold on tight, and go forward with joy.

† .  † .  †

Means to Preserve Peace of Soul in Time of Trial
Nothing disturbs us so much as self-love and self-esteem. If our heart does not overflow with tender emotions, if our mind does not teem with sublime sentiments, if our soul is not inundated with exquisite sweetness, we are sad; if anything difficult is to be done, if any obstacle opposes our just designs, behold us in a state of precipitation to have it overcome, and we are overcome ourselves by the precipitation.

Why is this so? Undoubtedly, because we are too much attached to our comfort, our ease, our convenience. We would wish to say our prayers in a region of eau de cologne, and practice heroic virtue eating sugar cake; but we do not consider the meek Jesus, prostrate on the earth, sweating blood, through the dreadful combat that rages in His interior, between the feelings of the inferior part of His soul and the resolutions of the superior part.

Hence it happens that when we fall into any fault or sin, we are astonished, troubled, and impatient. We only desire consolations, and are unwilling to put a finger on our misery, our weakness, or our nothingness.  .  . Distrust over-anxious desires for good; they are full of self-love and of impatience to be something  . . .  In order to obtain the remission of light faults, it is better, after having acknowledged them, to turn humbly and lovingly towards God, than to preserve a sad remembrance of them and to remain a long time in fear. Whether your prevarications be serious or trivial, remain in pious sentiments of confidence towards the Lord, casting your sins into the abyss of His mercy, that they may be forever lost there; for there is no damnation to those who are in Jesus.

Peace
Were we to do a few things, we should find peace: let us have a pure intention to seek on all occasions the honour and glory of God; let us perform the little we can for this object, according to the advice of our spiritual father, and leave the rest to God. Why should he who has God for the object of his intentions, and who does what he can, torment himself? What has he to fear?

No, no, God is not so terrible to those who love Him; He is content with a little, for He knows that we have not much. And know that Our Lord is called in Scripture the Prince of Peace, and hence, wherever He is absolute Master, He preserves peace.

And War
It is nevertheless true, that, before establishing peace in any place, He first makes war there, separating the heart and soul from their dearest and most intimate affections, such as immoderate love of oneself, confidence and complacency in oneself, and other like evils. When Our Lord separates us from these cherished and favourite passions, it seems as if He excoriated our living heart, and we are filled with the most bitter sentiments; we can hardly prevent our whole soul from discussing its misfortune, so sensible is this separation.

But all this disputation of mind is not inconsistent with peace, when, though almost submerged by desolation, we still keep our will resigned to that of Our Lord, nailed to His divine good pleasure, and cease not from the performance of our duties, but fulfill them courageously.

Of which Our Lord gives us an example in the Garden; for, overwhelmed with interior and exterior affliction, He resigned His heart sweetly into His Father’s will, saying: “Not my will, but Thine be done,” and ceased not, great as was His anguish, to visit and admonish His disciples. To preserve peace in the midst of war, and sweetness in the midst of bitterness, is indeed worthy of the Prince of Peace.

From what I have just said, I desire you to draw three conclusions:

  • That we often imagine peace to be lost, because we are in pain, while it is not lost, as may easily be known by the fact that we still wish to renounce ourselves, to depend on the good pleasure of God, and to fulfill the duties of our state;
  • That we must of necessity endure interior pain, while God tears away the last remnant of the old man, to renovate us in the new man who is created according to God, and therefore we should not be troubled, or suppose that we have fallen into disgrace with Our Lord;
  • That all those thoughts which cause vexation and agitation of mind cannot proceed from God, who is the Prince of Peace, but are temptations of the enemy, and therefore to be rejected and disregarded.

In the draft post there was a note which appears a paraphrase and it seems to fit here:

To a nun who asked how to avoid distractions withdrawing the soul from God, the saint replied:

Distraction cannot withdraw your soul from God, since nothing withdraws us from God but sin, and the resolution we make in the morning to keep our soul united to God, and attentive to His presence, has the effect of preserving us thus always, even when we sleep, since we do all in the name of God, and according to His most holy will.

Even venial sins are not capable of turning us aside from the way which conducts to God; they undoubtedly retard us a little on our course, but they do not turn us aside: much less simple distractions. So far as prayer is concerned, it is not less useful, or less agreeable to God, when accompanied with many distractions; on the contrary, it may be more useful than if we had many consolations, because it is more laborious: provided, however, that we have the wish to withdraw from those distractions, and do not allow our mind to dwell on them willingly.

The very same observation applies to the difficulty which, during the day, we feel to fix our mind on God, and on heavenly things: provided we endeavor to keep our thoughts from running after trifles, and learn patience, by not growing weary of our labor, which is suffered for the love of God. For,

We must distinguish between God and a perception of God, between faith and a feeling of faith. A person about to suffer martyrdom for God does not always think of God at that time; and though he has no feeling of faith, yet he does not cease to merit, or to perform an act of the greatest love.

I recall reading St. Maximilian Kolbe to that same effect; having consecrated ourselves and all our works and intentions to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we may confidently proceed without scrupulosity. For it is not about our sensibilities but about surrendering our will to God. Humility. Obedience.

Pray the Rosary and confound satan and those who serve him!

  Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.
  Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy kingdom come! Viva Cristo Rey!
  Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.
  St. Joseph, protect us, protect our families, protect our priests.
  St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.

Please pray for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary!.
Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin! Give me strength against thine enemies!