Friday, February 28, 2014

I would gladly give my life if only Christ could find in priests what he is expecting from them.

This is a post taken from a site dedicated to Father William Doyle SJ, a remarkable man and priest  The following post, written on the Feast of St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, focuses on a letter of Fr. Doyle to a religious for whom he served as spiritual director.  In the letter he speaks of a biography he was reading about Blessed Marie de Jésus.  Both shared the desire to offer themselves in reparation for sins and for the sanctification of priests.  Fr. Doyle also felt that the young religious to whom he was writing had such a calling and was encouraging her to embrace it fully.  

Over and over again I asked myself, when reading that book, was it not strange that I should come across the very ideas which had been in my mind so long: namely, the longing of our Lord for more souls who would be absolutely at His mercy, His pleasure and disposal; souls in whom He could work at will, knowing that they would never resist Him, even by praying to Him to lessen the trials He was sending; souls who were willing and longing to be sacrificed and immolated in spite of all the shrinking of weak human nature. 
Now I have long thought He wants that from you. And everything that is happening seems to point that way. If you make such a surrender of yourself absolutely into His hands, I know not what humiliations, trials and even sufferings may come upon you, though you must not ask for them. But He will send you grace in abundance to bear them, He will draw immense glory out of your loving crucifixion, and in spite of yourself He will make you a saint. . . This must be chiefly an act of the will, for it would be unnatural not to feel trials or humiliations; but even when the tears of pain are falling, the higher nature can rejoice. You can see this is high perfection, but it will bring great peace to your soul. Our Lord will take the work of your sanctification into His own hands, if you keep the words of the Imitation (iii. 17. i) ever before you: ‘Child, suffer Me to do with thee whatever I will.’ Do not be afraid for He would not ask this if He did not intend to find you the grace.
COMMENT: Fr Doyle wrote these words in February 1912 to a religious to whom he was giving spiritual direction, and the book to which he was referring was a biography of Blessed Marie de Jésus Deluil Martiny whose feast is commemorated today. 
Blessed Marie de Jésus was the French foundress of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Heart of Jesus, a congregation especially founded to pray for priests and to offer reparation for the sins of priests. This is how Fr Doyle’s biographer, Alfred O’Rahilly, describes the charism of this congregation: 
This ideal (prayer for priests) is still more conspicuously enshrined in some recent religious institutes, particularly in the Society of the Daughters of the Heart of Jesus founded by Blessed Marie de Jésus Deluil-Martiny. These sisters are “to ask by fervent prayers, by sufferings and even by their lives, if necessary, for the outpouring of grace on the Church, on the Catholic priesthood and on religious orders.” In his Brief to Mgr. van den Berghe, 14th March, 1872, Pius IX welcomed the new foundation. “It is not without consolation of heart,” said the Pope, “that we have heard of your plan to arouse and spread in your country that admirable spirit of sacrifice which God apparently wishes to oppose to the ever increasing impiety of our time. We see with pleasure that a great number of persons are everywhere devoting themselves entirely to God, offering Him even their life in ardent prayer, to obtain the deliverance and happy preservation of His Vicar and the triumph of the Church, to make reparation for the outrages committed against the divine Majesty, and especially to atone for the profanations of those who, though the salt of the earth, lead a life which is not in conformity with their dignity.” 
Here is how Blessed Marie de Jésus described her calling in her own words:
To offer yourself for souls is beautiful and great but to offer yourself for the souls of priests is so beautiful, so great, that you would have to have a thousand lives and offer your heart a thousand times. . . . I would gladly give my life if only Christ could find in priests what he is expecting from them. I would gladly give it even if just one of them could perfectly realize God’s divine plan for him. 
There are a number of references to Blessed Marie de Jésus in Fr Doyle’s notes and letters, and we know from much else in his life how important the ideal of priestly sanctity was for him – not only did Fr Doyle strive with all of his energy towards his own personal sanctification, but he was also the Director-General for Ireland of the League for Priestly Sanctity and he also offered up many of his great austerities for priests and in reparation for the sins of priests. 
So let us copy the example of both Blessed Marie de Jésus and of Fr Doyle, and pray for our priests who face so many challenges and difficulties today, especially in Ireland.
Today is also the feast of St Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, a young Passionist who died of tuberculosis before his ordination. I can find no reference to St Gabriel in Fr Doyle’s writings, but he was most certainly aware of St Gabriel – he was beatified during Fr Doyle’s lifetime, and St Gabriel features prominently in the life of St Gemma Galgani to whom Fr Doyle was devoted. That both had somewhat similar personalities: St Gabriel was apparently engaged with two girls simultaneously before he entered religious life, was the life and soul of the party and was also a good shot with a gun. There are no records of any romantic involvements in Fr Doyle’s life, but he was renowned for his own sense of adventure and fun and incredible sense of humour and cheer, so I’m sure that the very human, and very fervent, St Gabriel would have appealed to him.
To conclude today, here are some of St Gabriel’s resolutions which are very similar in tone to those of Fr Doyle: 
I will keep my rule, even the smallest thing.
I will not neglect any of my spiritual exercises.
I will shun idleness.
I will be punctual.
I will obey the sound of the bell as though it were the voice of God.
I will receive all things from the hand of God, as being sent by Him for my own personal benefit.
I will profit by every occasion for mortification that may occur.
I will fulfil exactly my ordinary duties, mortifying self in whatever would prove an obstacle to perfect obedience.
I will mortify my eyes and my tongue.
I will not leave my cell without necessity.
I will not inquire after anything through curiosity.
I will check my desire to talk.
I will increase the number of such like acts daily.
I will not take any food outside of mealtime.
I am poor and I should act accordingly.
I should be willing to put up with any inconvenience gladly.
I will not eat with avidity, but rather with reserve and with modesty, subjecting my appetite to reason.
I will mortify myself in ordinary things and whatever I feel inclined to do, saying in my heart: “O my God, I will not do this thing through mere inclination, but because it is thy will”.
I will be reserved toward those to whom I feel most inclined, prudently avoiding their presence and conversation.
I will not utter a word that might, in the least, turn to my praise.
I will not take pleasure in any praise bestowed upon me.
I will never excuse myself when I am blamed or corrected, nor even resent it interiorly, much less put the blame upon others.
I will never speak of the faults of others, even though they may be public, nor will I ever show want of esteem for others, whether in their presence or in their absence.
I will not judge ill of anyone.
I will show the good opinion I have of each one by covering up his faults.
I will consider everyone my superior, treating all with humility and reverence.
I will rejoice at the good done by others.
I will not permit myself to become interested in vain and useless things.
I will rejoice at the success of others.
I will practice charity and kindness, assisting, serving and pleasing all.
I will shun particular friendships, so as to offend no one.
Every morning and evening I will practice some act of humility, and gradually increase the number.
I will close my heart against disquiet of any kind.
I will suppress immediately all emotions of impetuosity and all affections that might cloud my mind, even lightly.
I will obey the voice of the Superior as if it were the voice of God himself.
In my obedience I will neither examine the why nor the wherefore.
I will conform my judgment to that of my Superior.
I will not employ time in conversing about purely worldly matters.
“Faithfulness in little things” is the motto I will always follow in my efforts to reach holiness.
I will try to reproduce in myself whatever I see edifying and virtuous in the conduct of others.
I will give to God the best that I have — the entire affection of my heart.

To Veil One's Suffering with Joy . . .

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

To veil one's suffering with joy so that by the grace of God it may become a source of consolation or affection for others is truly precious and beautiful.  However, you must hold your sorrow as a kind of sacred trust; hidden from the eyes of others in order that the Beloved may manifest himself through it as and how He wills.

Trust that the Beloved will not leave you wanting but will provide for your needs and send you those individuals capable of seeing through to the soul with a sympathy that leaves its own blessing.  However, learn to trust most of all in the Beloved Himself who knows and shares in every burden you carry.

To transform one's suffering into joy for others, to cover it with a veil that only allows to show through what could become consolation or affection.  May God alone know that which He alone has willed and the burden He has given us.

The intensity of certain sorrows makes them almost sacred and compels them to be hidden from the eyes of men.  In the depths of the soul where they take refuge, with God for their sole witness, they can be discovered only by seekers of souls, those who know how to penetrate the living depths of a person and who, as beneficent visitors, leave behind them the alms of religious sympathy.  Such well-doers are rare, and "He who seethe in secret" is often enough the only confidant of our interior distress.

Elisabeth Leseur
Daily Thoughts (1899-1906)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A humble and hidden apostolate

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Your apostolate of prayer for reparation for sins and the sanctification of souls can carry no hint of pride within it.  God alone transforms and saves and you can simply make yourselves His humble instruments.  Yours is but to freely share the treasure that the Beloved has bestowed upon you.  

Rejoice when you find someone who is seeking the higher life, but do not insert your self so as to impede divine action.  Ego can only slow or derail the work of God in the soul and any word that does not arise out of the silence of prayer and a pure heart only adds to the noise of the world.  Let your holy lives bear witness to the power of His grace and love.

Let us not think that by our personal action we can hasten the coming of God's Kingdom in souls.  As soon as the divine hour has come, our efforts will be useless, or, rather, they will only be an active prayer, an appeal to Him who transforms and saves.

Nevertheless, let us make this appeal to Him with the humble conviction that He alone will do what must be done and will bring life to the souls for which we act and pray.

What joy suddenly to discover in someone resources that we did not suspect, an instinctive need for the higher life, and unconscious seeking for the unknown God!  We must then draw near with respect to give this soul some of our inner treasure, and must offer for it some of our daily suffering and effort.

But with what delicacy must we approach this soul, so as not to impede divine action!  A single word that lacks the spirit of the eternal Word might destroy all of this interior working, which God alone brings to completion.  We must let Him speak, and we must show by our example and our lives alone the fulfillment of His deep and efficacious action in us.

Elizabeth Leseur
Daily Thoughts (1899-1906)

Loving the Church and Making Reparation for the Sins of Those Who Serve in the Sanctuaries of the Lord

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Dom Mark Kirby once again has graciously shared with us at Vultus Christi the writings of Mother Mectilde de Bar.  As always Mother expresses so well the pressing need to make reparation for the sins of those who are to serve the Church in her sanctuaries.  This time, however, she has the Church Herself, the Bride, address Her laments to you.

Do you love the Church?  Are you willing to suffer on Her behalf and in reparation for the affronts against the Lord and His Bride?  Are you willing for Love of Christ to take on the weight of the sins of the priesthood?  

More important: Are you willing to do this in such a fashion so as not to wound the Lord or His Church further?  Are you willing to do this silently and in a hidden fashion?  The spirit of reparation must not be shaped by frustration and anger but by love - the same love that drove your Lord to the Cross.  So often in our day there is a willingness to criticize and to identify the wound, but no one to offer the healing balm of loving sacrifice.  Do not let your lament turn into even greater sin by tearing away and biting at the ones already wounded.  Love, sacrifice and mercy alone should shape the hearts of the Daughters of St. Philip Neri.

In her meditations for the Feast of Reparation, solemnized on the Thursday of Sexagesima week, Mother Mectilde de Bar reflects on the sins of those who serve in the sanctuaries of the Lord.  The Church, in her desolation, cries, O you who have some love for me, you who know all the glory that my Bridegroom deserves, see and consider if there be any sorrow like unto mine. O you, ministers of the Lord and friends of the Bridegroom, the Bride address these laments to you. Hasten to relieve her pain by making reparation for the affronts to Jesus Christ; give Him the glory that others would strip from Him.

Having once shown the disorders of the children of Israel to the prophet Jeremias, the Lord led him to the entrance of the temple; He ordered him to pierce an opening in its wall, and to look upon what was going on inside. The prophet obeyed, and says that therein he saw even greater abominations.

Who, alas, does not grasp that this is but a figure? Who does not know that the sanctuary is the theatre par excellence of the Lord’s ignominies? Who does not know that, alongside of priests who are fervent and truly divine, there are priests who are lukewarm and indifferent, priests who are wicked [...]? And so, the Church, in calling [us] to reparation, begs us not to forget the outrages made against the glory of her Divine Spouse by His own ministers. Yours it is, she says, to expiate the sins of the Sanctuary; yours it is to bear the weight of the sins of the priesthood.

Let us enter into these intentions of the Church, and united in spirit with what remains on earth of fervent Christians, and of priests pressed by the charity of Jesus Christ, let us strive to repair the outrages of indifference and impiety; let us lift up the throne of the Lord, and offer Him the tribute of homage that, by so many titles, He deserves.

Mother Mectilde de Bar, Meditations for the Day of Great Reparation

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The maternal sympathy that calms a soul

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Live in the depths; for the Kingdom of God is within you and it is there that the Beloved will purify your heart and enable you to see and understand the meaning and fruitfulness of suffering.  Through your own suffering he will refine your sensibilities and make you more attentive to the slightest movement of sorrow or tenderness in the souls of others.  The sensitive heart is moved with compassion but it is also capable of moving mountains.  It is a maternal sympathy that approaches and calms a soul with the gentlest touch; that can illuminate the heart of the other and give hope.

Men live on the surface of their souls, without ever penetrating their profound and sorrowful depths.  If we knew how to recollect ourselves, how to look clearly into ourselves, and how to understand the meaning and fruitfulness of suffering, then the slightest gesture, the most imperceptible tremble of the most humble human beings would reveal to us these abysses of sorrow or tenderness, which remain wide upon in a soul until the day when another soul pours light into it and causes life to burst forth from it.

The influence exercised by a person is something subtle, penetrating; its strength cannot be measured.  What powerful preaching there can be in simply contact with a soul!  One single soul can change the whole moral atmosphere surrounding it by its solitary light.

Elisabeth Leseur
Daily Thoughts (1899-1906)

Look for Him within and He will raise you up to share in that better part . . .

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Foster in your heart a deep desire for the Lord and fear not to let yourself to be possessed with a longing for Him.  Allow yourself to be consumed with seeking Him even when your thoughts, anxieties or sufferings repeatedly dissuade you from this purpose.  

Walk in the awareness of this voice; the voice that at every moment sweetly speaks your name as no other could - for it is the voice of the Beloved.  Though your senses fail you or make you think you are being deceived, your heart will know that it is He.

Let Him be all that He desires to be for you; place no limits on His love and do not cling to anything less that the mind can conceive.  Look for Him within and He will raise you up to share in that better part that will never be taken from you.

Our soul is possessed by a desire for truth; we love and search ceaselessly for it, because it is the object of our being.  And we will possess it one day, completely.  We want to live the life of the soul intensely and deeply, the interior life, the beginning of eternal life, and we wander gropingly over this path of good, which we find most lovely, and upon which we sow our efforts, our struggles and our desires.  A voice calls to us, the all powerful word of appeal, which lifts us up and transforms us: "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life."  Let us walk in the awareness of his voice.  He who can utter such words will never deceive us.

There is nothing so great or ideally beautiful as the action of God in the human soul.  If we knew how to detect it in ourselves, our lives would be transformed.  If we could see it in others we would love still more Him who is always in the midst of us, who works marvels in us, and who effects these spiritual "rejuvenations" of the soul that we shall come to understand only in eternity.

Elisabeth Leseur
Daily Thoughts (1899-1906)

Ordinary Actions, Extraordinary Love

'While not neglecting other duties,
these seek above all things
to learn to know Jesus...
and endeavour to live always
in union with Him
Who is ever in the
chapel of their hearts.... 

This is, indeed, the perfect practice of devotion
to the Sacred Heart
beating in the Tabernacle on the Altar
and in the living tabernacle of our hearts -

thus did the Saints love!  Many
of these friends of God
never did very wonderful things
during their years on earth,
but they loved much
and did ordinary things
with extraordinary love.

St. Rita was a cook;
St. Benedict Joseph Labre, a beggar...
and an endless list of others who did no more than the ordinary actions that go to make up the warp and woof of our daily lives. Yet they scaled the heights of sanctity by the ladder of loving aspirations of prayer.'

from the website The Cloistered Heart

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bearers of divine mercy . . .

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

"I have pity upon the multitude."  Let these words penetrate your hearts so that your gaze might be ever on the lookout for those who suffer and are heavy burdened.  The more perfect your love for Christ becomes the more keen your vision should become and your conscience ever more sensitive.  

Love must multiply your acts of charity, sacrifices and times spent in prayer - your heart expanding and your compassion becoming as vast as the crowd.  

What multiplies these acts and prayers immeasurably is your willingness to suffering and unite yourself to Christ on the Cross.  Allow yourself to be broken and poured out in love for others. Feed the crowds! Here real true generativity emerges.  Here new life is created for others.  In the Cross is found lasting renewal and mercy in abundance.  

Which of us can pronounce with our whole soul the words of Christ: "I will have pity upon the multitude?"  And who, above all, can give life to these words, make them penetrate our being and every one of our actions?  Have pity!  What meaning in these words!

Oh, the gentle pity of Christ, the tears He shed for the miserable abandoned crowds!  Shall we, His disciples never know how to love with all our soul and act with all our will for those little ones whom Jesus blesses, and whom He wants entirely for Himself?

There is great work to be done.  No matter, if each of us does all he can and leaves behind him deeds, words, and prayers that will multiply wondrously until the end of time and do good to distant or unknown souls!

Suffering works mysteriously, first in ourselves by a kind of inner renewal, and also in others, perhaps far away, without our ever knowing here on earth what we are accomplishing by it.

Suffering is an act.  Christ on the Cross has perhaps done more for humanity than Christ speaking and acting in Galilee or Jerusalem.  Suffering creates life; it transforms all it touches, all it strikes.

Elisabeth Leseur
Daily Thoughts (1899-1906)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Looking joyfully at life and its duties

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Your joyfulness as Philip's daughters must permeate your worldview.  Do not give yourself over to a spirit of divisiveness in relationship or conversations.  Part of your spiritual maternity is to bring an enduring stability to the lives of those around you through your steady and serene character; one that is set on cultivating the good in others and lifting them up in their struggles. Never show the slightest bit of dejection or despondency; a questioning spirit that can undermine your faith and the faith of others in the Church or the value of spiritual discipline.  In this your life will be most fruitful.

There is a way of living and thinking that I would call negative, another that I would call active.  The first consists in seeing always what is defective in men and institutions, not so much to remedy them as to triumph over them; in always looking behind one, and in seeking by preference whatever separates and disunites.  The second consists in looking joyfully at life and its duties; in seeking the good in everyone in order to develop and cultivate it; in never despairing of the future, the fruit of our will; in feeling for human faults and miseries the valiant compassion that leads to action and that no longer allows us to live a useless life.

Elisabeth Leseur
Daily Thoughts (1899-1906)

May God be praised for all: joys and griefs.

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

When you live your life in a spirit of true detachment, then you will begin to find sweetness in times of both joy and sorrow.  Rooted in eternity, you will begin to see true Beauty and Love in earthly things.  They will not become an obstacle to your seeing God but rather they will become more and more transparent and reveal His presence to you.  

The even greater blessing will be your capacity to love the sorrows and trials of life; to embrace them and love them even more than the joys.  For they will reveal to you the Love of the Cross and provide you the means to unite yourself in your sufferings to the Beloved for the salvation and conversion of souls.

People in the world do not realize that one can be very detached from all human things and live a keen spiritual life, and yet find sweetness in the interests, occupations, and joys of life.  However, it is only when one has rooted oneself in eternity that one can let one's humble little barque float upon the surface of the waves and rejoice fully in the view from earthly rivers.  Storms no longer frighten one; the clear sky makes one more bold.  The sun is always shine behind the clouds; the light, for all its beauty, does not conceal the eternal and splendid light that guides us to port and waits for us there.

Joys of life - affection, the beauty of nature, and the splendors of art: as much as or more than anyone I rejoice in you, for you are the reflection of the Beauty and Love that have taken possession of my heart.  Sorrows of life - trials, illness, and painful infirmities: dear companions who have been so faithful to me, I do not reject you; I love you, because you are other aspects of the one true Love; because, united to the holy Cross, you become good workers for the salvation and conversion of souls and for my own expiation; because, thanks to you, I can sometimes show my tender gratitude to Him who has done so much, who has done everything for me.

May God be praised for all: joys and griefs.  May He help me, by the spiritual joy that exists even in the midst of the interior gloom, to praise and glorify Him until I breathe no more, until I enter eternity.

Elisabeth Leseur
Resolutions (1906-1912)

This involuntary "hair shirt"

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

At times you will seem to carry your cross but feebly.  However, do not become discouraged but rather let the physical and spiritual weakness you experience make you reach out to the Beloved all the more.  The poverty of your suffering will only reveal to you the power of God's grace and how truly bountiful it is for those who cry out to Him.  

Furthermore, such mortifications are greater than any of those you could  have chosen for yourself by your own will.  When embraced they shall become the truer and more perfect acts of reparation. 

My present trial seems to be a somewhat painful one, and I have the humiliation of knowing how badly I bore it at first.  I now want to accept to carry this little cross joyfully, to carry it silently, with a smile in my heart and on my lips, in union with the Cross of Christ.  This involuntary "hair shirt" will replace that which I would never be allowed to wear, and I will thus discipline my pride, egotism, and laxity.  My God, blessed be Thou; accept from me each day the embarrassment, inconvenience, and pain this misery causes me.  May it become a prayer and an act of reparation.

Elisabeth Leseur
Resolutions (1906-1912)

I will let myself be distributed by Him to souls

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Will you make yourself available to the Lord, poor and tiny as you are, to be given to souls to restore and revive them?  Trust that as the Lord multiplied the loaves to nourish the crowds He can by His grace take what you offer - your sacrifices and love - and use them to comfort and strengthen those who long for life and love.  Let the blessings that God has bestowed upon you freely and generously pass to others.

Meditated on the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves.  Jesus Christ takes this lifeless thing, this tiny, coarse object, this bread, and by His blessing, it becomes food and life for the entire crowd.

Why should I not be, in these same divine hands, the poor instrument for another such work?  Why should I not be given by God to souls to uphold and revive them?  I am only feebleness, but strength will come from Him alone who uses me; I will let myself be distributed by Him to souls, and will serve them only in the measure that He wills.  Sweet divine benediction, descend upon me!  Multiply my prayers, sacrifices and acts of charity!  Let these fragments of Thy love in me become warmth and comfort for the spiritual starved, until the blessed time when Thou, the one living Bread, shalt come Thyself to revive and save them.

Elisabeth Leseur
Resolutions (1906-1912)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

To offer God my incapacity and joyfully to endure being a little misunderstood

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Sensitive souls often find it painful to be misunderstood and not to be able to serve others as they desire.  To be thought less of or lazy for not being able to carry out your duties may someday be a painful trial for you or to have your love be unappreciated or go unnoticed may bring bitter suffering, but there is great fruit to be had in such things.  These little but frequent  humiliations will prevent you from the dangers of excessive sympathy or admiration.  That poor health is contrary to your wishes makes it the greater albeit hidden mortification.  Be sure to embrace all in a spirit of serenity and let your bearing be one of kindness and joy.  

It is a source of pain and difficult sacrifice to have to divide one's life so much, and always to give to each one less than he expects.  This sometimes leads to a feeling in others  that not enough is being done for them, and they perhaps show some sadness or regret, which becomes a bitter trial to her who is the involuntary cause of it.

And then one's self-love does not like a state of things that makes one less esteemed and appreciated and apparently unequal to one's task.  That perhaps is the true, hidden fruit of this trial: a little humiliation, less dangerous sympathy and admiration, very deep pain that does not elicit any praise.

To make myself do my duty amply, to give generously to each one my efforts, time, affection, a warm and equable welcome, even at the price of sacrifice and renunciation.

To offer God my incapacity and joyfully to endure being a little misunderstood, or, rather, to enduring  being truly misunderstood with my weaknesses, my laziness, my numberless imperfections.  Without this drop of bitterness, the sweetness of the affection surrounding me might make me slide into laxity and self-satisfaction.

My God, I accept my dispersed life, so often contrary to my wishes - this sometimes fatiguing variety of occupations and cares.  Help me to perform all the duties of my state and yet to safeguard my spiritual life.  Let the warmth of my welcome, the serenity of my bearing, the friendliness of my words always hide from everyone the miseries of my poor body, and the efforts and sacrifices of my soul.  Teach me to be all things to all men, and to be more austere within, to myself alone.  To practice greater mortification, especially in a spirit of reparation.

Elisabeth Leseur
Resolutions (1906-1912)

The secret immolation that makes the most fruitful apostolate

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Your heart must be free from all pride and the egotism that leads you to trust too much in yourself and your own words or efforts.  When weighed down by your weakness and confronted with the hostility of others you must not lose sight of where the true means of transformation is to be found and how it is to be manifested in your life.  God's power is made perfect in weakness.  Through the poverty of the cross in your life and the hidden immolation of the self, the Holy Spirit can illuminate souls and overcome darkness.  It is the wisdom of the cross that you must embrace in your life.

When we feel impotent against hostility and indifference, when it is impossible to speak of God or the spiritual life, when many hearts brush against ours without penetrating it, then we must enter peacefully into ourselves in the sweet company that our souls never lack; and to others we must give only prayers and the quiet example of our lives and the secret immolation that makes the most fruitful apostolate.  All our explanations, words, and efforts are not worth the feeblest ray of the Holy Spirit in enlightening a soul, but they may obtain all His light for this soul.

There are moments in life when we must look neither ahead nor behind nor to the side, but contemplate only the cross God offers us, from which will flow great graces for ourselves and others.

Elisabeth Leseur
Resolutions (1906-1912)

One in the Cross

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Driven by the spirit of the world, the soul becomes self-seeking, not able to bear any slight from others or deprivation.  Filled with the Spirit of God, your soul's longing must be not self-promotion but rather the accomplishment of God's will and the promotion of His glory.  

Offer yourself to Himself to Him completely.  For the sake of souls offer yourself for immolation - knowing that however great the suffering you endure you are but the Cross upon which He is crucified.  The nails of trials, sufferings, interior sorrows pass first through your Beloved's hands.  

Though your austerity and sorrows are hidden, as they must be, the glory of Christ's love will shine through you.  In your gentleness, tenderness and charity let His love warm the hearts of others to devotion. 

My God, I belong, and wish always to belong, to Thee, in suffering or pain, in spiritual aridity or in joy, in illness or in health, in life or in death.  I want one thing only: that Thy Will be done in my and by me.  More and more, I seek, and desire to seek, only one end: to promote Thy greater glory by the realization of Thy designs for me.

I offer myself to Thee in wholehearted interior immolation and implore Thee to dispose of me as of the commonest, most useless instrument, in favor of souls Thou loves, for Thy service.  Make me a being either passive or active, practicing in turn and as the hour requires the contemplation I love best and other good works according to Thy Will.

Let me be always austere with myself, more and more gentle, sweet and helpful to others, to make Thee loved through me, always hiding my efforts, prayers and mortifications.  Make me very humble, and draw my heart to Thine, my Beloved Savior and God.

Elisabeth Leseur
Resolutions (1906-1912)

What can I offer the Lord for all his goodness to me?

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

The greater your experience of the Lord's love the deeper the longing becomes to offer yourself to Him.  He will satisfy that longing by giving you the opportunity to share in the self offering of the Cross.  There will come a time when you will be given the grace to offer the purest reparation -  to love Him not for the consolations He offers but from the pure desire to console Him for the sins committed against Him.  "Thank you" becomes synonymous with "Let it be done to me according to Your Will."  Such is the soul's true joy!

After our sweet return to the Faith and the inexpressible joy of union with God, after He has given us everything, the time comes for us to give Him something in return.  There comes a second period, more grave, more austere: the period of loss and interior deprivation, of dryness even and sometimes real distress.  We can then show our Savior the depth of our love; we expiate past faults and offer the purest reparation to Him whom we have offended; we can also offer reparation for others, make our interior trials serve other souls, and acquire more inner strength.  From a spiritual perspective, God weans us from the milk of infants to give us the wine of the strong.  Through all suffering and darkness of the spirit one feels a great sweetness to be doing something at last for God, showing Him that one loves Him truly - Him and not His consolations, of which He was so prodigal not so long ago.  The unachieved Alleluia ends in a Fiat that, in spite of all, is still joyful.

Elisabeth Leseur
Resolutions (1906-1912)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

How well Thou knowest how to choose for us the most salutary suffering . . .

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

As servants of Crucified Love, you must allow yourself to become accustomed to suffering and seek to unite your heart to that of the Beloved's.  It is thus that he perfects your faith and draws you close to His Heart.  Such knowledge and understanding will alone help you maintain a spirit of joy in your trials.

You cannot choose our own crosses but rather must trust that God offers you those that are salutary and that mortify the reason and diminish the ego.  You will be asked to sacrifice not that which is simply evil but even legitimate things that hold sway over your heart and keep you tethered to this world.

However, in all things rejoice and give thanks to God for the grace to bear all these things for love and the grace to see His love and presence in your sufferings.  

O my God, Thou dost not refuse me suffering.  For some time Thou has accustomed me to love Thee in the privation of all sensible joys, in a suffering heart and, often enough, in an exhausted body.  I accept all from They had and unite myself to Thy will.  Is it not just that have received all from Thee I should give  Thee something in my turn, and that I should offer Thee the trials, prayers, sacrifices, and humble activity that is Thy daily design for me?  Through all I want to try, by divine grace, to maintain joy of the spirit.

O Lord, for some time Thou hast allowed me the grace of suffering: mental trials, the renunciation of my desires and tastes, deeply felt solitude of the soul . . .  . How well Thou knowest how to choose for us the most salutary suffering, the one that crucifies us and allows the least possibility of egotism and pride.  In my illness there were still subtle temptations for me, and satisfactions that were legitimate and yet too much of this world.  In leaving me this physical misery, with the inconveniences and humiliations it brings, Thou has again hidden this from the eyes of others, and hast sent me other trials, which are also very painful, but truly known only to Thee.

From the bottom of my soul I say to Thee "Thank You."  Blessed are Thou, O Lord, for all this pain, through which Thou has allowed me to expiate my faults, draw near to Thy Heart, and also to obtain, I hope, many spiritual graces for souls and for those I love.

My God, help me to carry the cross Thous has offered me, and let none of this precious grace of suffering be lost to me or to the souls Thou lovest.

Elisabeth Leseur
Resolutions (1906-1912)

The life that is "hidden" in His Heart

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

With purity of heart and clarity of intention, resolve to follow not simply where your own inclinations will draw you but rather the will of God.  Your longing and desire for peace and prayer and to retire from the distractions of life must not lead you to neglect the duties of your station in life or to avoid its sufferings.  However, remain steadfast in your pursuit of the strength and joy that comes from your religious exercises and keep for God alone your inner life - - its sorrows and hopes.

To hold in check my longing, which is sometimes so strong, for a life that is different from my own, for calm and recollection and silence.  To keep within wise limits my growing dislike of the world, of external excitement.

To accept the suffering caused so often by hostility, indifference, or incomprehension of religious things.  To wish strongly, humbly, and solely for God's will and to live through Him and for Him in the world that I would like to flee from for the solitude that I cannot have.

Not to neglect the duties of my state, all the while maintaining as the basis of my life and my days the religious exercises my soul has so much need of, which are its strength and its joy.  To be gentle and smiling outside, keeping for God alone the inner life, the life that is "hidden" in His Heart.

Elisabeth Leseur
Resolutions (1906-1912)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Seek always to offer the best part of yourself

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

When giving yourself to others and God, seek always to offer the best part of yourself, to surrender as the property of others in the most generous fashion your inmost self.  To love as Christ loves is to love without condition or restraint.  

Fear not what will be lost or sacrificed or the possibility broken by life or the needs of others.  For indeed to be broken is to allow that which is best within us to pour forth - the divine love that dwells within these earthen vessels.  Let it be so . . . let it be so that "others may breathe the divine perfume."

We must give ourselves; that is, we must bring forth from this interior sanctuary, where we keep the best part of ourselves, some thoughts, chosen from among the best and most lofty, which, once they have gone forth from us, will become acts of love and words of life.  We must firmly resolve to try to give our best, to do all the good we can.  The unknown resources of strength, energy, and nobility lying within our depths must become the property of our brothers and sisters by valiant effort and generous surrender of our inmost personality.

All that life reveals to us each day all that we gain by constant energetic, persevering work on ourselves, all that constitutes our inner being: all of this should one day be turned into words or actions that reveal our soul.  This is truly to give oneself, which is the object of all human life.  It is a difficult task, a heroic effort, to bring forth the thought that is in us, but we must do it, breaking our souls as we might break a sacred vase so that others may breathe the divine perfume.

Elisabeth Leseur
Daily Thoughts (1899-1906)

Come! Seek Me in the chapel of thy heart!

'Cloister thy mind, thy senses and thy heart,
and keep within a silent sanctuary,
where thou with Me may live a life apart,
a life of love in sweetest intimacy.  

Speak with Me often through the busy day,
Thy joys and sorrows, all, to Me confide.
And hearken, child; My every wish obey
'til thus thou shalt with Me in Love abide.   

Why sigh then for the vision that is past.
or that from Thabor's Mount thou must depart?
For thou has e'er a vision that will last -
Come!  Seek Me in the chapel of thy heart!'

 (from Fervorinos from the Lips of the Master, compiled by a Religious, Pelligrini, Australia, 1940, p. 258)

When life reduces you to pain, know that the Beloved - Crucified Love - is surely close

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

When life reduces you to pain, know that the Beloved - Crucified Love - is surely close.  Know that the offering of yourself to Him then is stronger than any action, stronger than any prayer.  Your very being has become a sacrifice of praise to Him and not the smallest part of it shall be lost.

The more grievous the pain becomes let it quicken your desire for the Beloved and for the sanctification of souls.  Resolve to let Him teach you how to love and give yourself in love to the last moment.

Six months of suffering: bitter suffering of the body, suffering of the soul, privations of all sorts, much pain and humiliation.  Oh, so long as it is the divine response to me - is it not so, Lord?  And so long as no least part of my pain is lost!  Stronger than my action, stronger than my imperfect prayer, may it reach Thy Heart and become the most efficacious form of supplication.

Do not delay; heaken, O my God, to these desires that Thou knowest well.  Give great and Christian happiness to these beloved children and sanctify them all.  Complete quickly the interior conversion and profound sanctification that I await from Thy grace.  Unite with my soul the souls of those I love, the soul I love best of all, and put an end to this grievous solitude of of spirit, which weighs on me so much.  And then sanctify me, too, by this suffering; bring me close to Thy Heart and teach me to love and serve Thee better.  I resolve (imploring divine grace) in the future to give way no more to the lapses I have known in hours of extreme pain, to be always gentle, humble and full of charity.

Help me, dear Savior.

Elisabeth Leseur
The Journal (1911-1914)

These were the last lines Elisabeth wrote in her journal, during a brief respite.  She worsened a few days later, and her suffering lasted four months longer.  She died a holy death on Sunday, May 3, 1914, at ten o'clock in the morning, surrounded by her family.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

In the Crucible of His Heart

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Trust in the action of your Beloved in your soul even when it is devoid of spiritual joy.  Let your faith be perfected in the crucible of His love, in the crucible of His Heart.  Enter there and never desire to leave.  Let His pierced Heart be your workplace.  Through your prayer and suffering, both humble and discreet, carry out your apostolate.

Yesterday I was able to go to Mass . . . ; my fatigue and physical weakness deprived me of any conscious joy in Communion, but the action in me of the beloved Master will only have been greater, as I can feel today.  And that is enough.  What does even spiritual joy matter to one who feels alive?

. . . it is by my love, my deeds, and my sacrifices that I will try to discharge my immense debt.  It is only through the Heart of Jesus that I will be able to pay all of it by the gift of His tenderness and holiness.  To work, then, to act and suffer, according to the divine Will!

I want to make a courageous effort toward holiness.  To be silent, to forget myself; to think of others and devote myself to them; to care for and accomplish nothing but the divine Will; to be the apostle of the Sacred Heart, an adoring and atoning soul; my eyes and my heart fixed on the tabernacle and on Heaven, to seek there only Jesus and to lead to Him all of the souls He will place in my path.

Above all, an apostolate of prayer and suffering.  Humble, discreet action; unalterable gentleness, friendliness, and kindness.

Elisabeth Leseur
The Journal (1911-1914)