Monday, February 10, 2014

How Shall This Fire Be Kindled?


Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri, 

With a kind of ease, Elisabeth puts before us what should be the soul's desire - an absolute, exclusive and ardent love of God.  Not only is this to be the soul's desire but constant occupation; to enflame it in order to set the world on fire.

Sweet and joyous meditation on the words of Christ "I am come to cast fire on the earth; and what will I but that it be kindled?"  That fire is charity, the absolute, exclusive, and ardent love of God and, through Him, of all humanity.  But what souls will be sufficiently holy to make men understand what this charity is, and how shall this fire be kindled?

Whatever our station in life, whatever work we find ourselves engaged in is the place that we are to seek God and to lift up our souls to Him through offering Him our sufferings and trials.  No one should be outside the purview of our sympathy.  No duty can be too lowly and no devotion ever unimportant or trumped in importance by daily distractions.

Each one of us can be a humble worker at this great task, and I have seen clearly what I can do in my corner of life.  Above all, to work on myself, to try to develop in myself all the instincts God has given me; to strengthen my will by regular work; to elevate my soul unceasingly by sacrifice and the acceptance of my usual sufferings, and by a constant and tender sympathy for all who approach me.  To do the humblest things in the conviction that they always bring to me the beauty and truth for which I long.  To love exclusively and to seek duty in everything, however obscure and painful it may be, whether intellectual or purely material; to miss no opportunity to act or to perform some devotion, especially if it will not be noticed.  Never willingly to give up any act of devotion or sacrifice unless it brings me praise or flatters that subtle pride that so quickly prevails.

Our gaze is to be particularly drawn to the little ones of the world; yet without scorning those who have no desire for God or are entrenched in sin.  We must seek to lift all up and spread the warmth of love that God has placed in our hearts by His mercy.

To go always to the little ones, the suffering, those for whom life is hard; but to have no scorn for those lighthearted ones who live for themselves.  They more than the others, perhaps, need to be loved, need a little charity to show God to them.  Resolutely to devote my intelligence, my will, my heart, all my soul and my being to God, to the advancement of God's kingdom in the world and in souls.  To raise, strengthen, and spread a little of the warmth that He has put into my heart, the "fire" that kindles me, which I grieve to be unable to kindle in other souls.

We can trust that in these labors God provides what is lacking in us and what we in our ignorance we fail to understand as important.  The generativity that we should desire is to foster that which will endure forever; to give birth to desire for God in the hearts of others.

When I have done this, God will do the rest.  We pray, suffer, and labor in ignorance of the consequence of our acts and prayers.  God makes them serve His supreme place; gradually they take their effect winning one soul, then another.  They hasten the coming of the Kingdom of God and by the other beings, acts, and desires they give birth to, they will exert an influence that will endure until the end of time.