Tuesday, June 30, 2015

glory in your infirmities

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Know that the closer God draws you to His Heart and the more He perfects your love the more you will experience suffering.  Not for suffering's sake; but that your soul may be purged and prepared for a deeper union with Him.  You must learn to lean on your infirmities rather than on any perception of perfection in order that you might know the joy of experiencing His strength and virtue acting in you. Desire His love and embrace all that those who wish close union with the Crucified must suffer.  He desires to clothe you with His own beauty.  

I do feel intense pity for you and pray for you with all my heart, as I know what you are going through. No, dear, it is not pride—of course there is pride in us all—but that is not the reason of the awful isolation and want and hunger for God’s love; no, it is God’s doing. He is purging your soul in order to prepare it for union with His Divine Son. “If anyone bear fruit, My Father will purge him—that he may bear more fruit.” Now I want you to have confidence in me and believe my word. It is not our perfection which is to dazzle God, Who is surrounded by myriads of angels; no, it is our misery and wretchedness which draw down His mercy. All God’s dealings with us are a consequence of His mercy (mercy is Goodness touched by the sight of misery), and that is why the great St. Paul says, Let others go to God leaning on the perfection of their life (as the Pharisee), “for me, I take glory in my infirmities that my strength may be His virtue.” If you could once understand that you are never dearer to God, never glorify Him more than when, in the full realization of your misery and unworthiness, you gaze at His infinite goodness and cast yourself on His bosom, believing in faith that His mercy is infinitely greater than your misery. St. Paul tells us that God has done all in laudem et gloriam gratiae suae, “for the praise and glory of His grace.” Now the triumph of His grace is when it raises up the miserable and impure and renders them worthy of divine union. See Mary Magdalen. She was a sinner by profession, she had seven devils in her whom Jesus expelled, and yet He not only allowed her to touch His divine feet, but it was to her He appeared first on Easter morning. He is a Spouse infinitely rich and powerful, and when He chooses a poor little child like you to be His bride His joy is to enrich her poverty, and clothe her with His own beauty. You are now passing through a period of trial, but Jesus loves you dearly. He is so happy to see you want to be loved by Him. That is not self-love, it is “wishing for what God wants you to wish. If I could only get that into your head, and keep your eyes fixed on Him—on His goodness—and not on your little self. Seek the Lord, seek His face continually.

You are just going through what all souls called to close union with the Crucified must suffer. God sometimes allows sufferings of all sorts—bad health, weariness, temptation, difficulties, etc., to swoop down at once on the soul to purify her. She must feel her utter dependence on Him. Souls united as yours is with our Lord, whose whole life comes from Him, suffer more than others when He leaves them. This winter is only to prepare for a more fruitful summer. All you can do is to bow your head and accept the trial, and bear with the Lord till He come back. Jesus gives us the example. In the Garden of Olives it is said: “He began to fear, and to be weary, to be heavy and sad.” I pray for you with all my heart.

Blessed Columba Marmion.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

you are beginning to be scorned and misunderstood

The hour of sacrifice has struck. You already feel that it is not a small thing to aspire to the dignity of being the bride of the Crucified. Already He is associating you with His sufferings and ignominies. Herod treated Him, Eternal Wisdom, as a fool; Pilate treated Him as a seducer, the people preferred Barabbas to Him. And you, who aspire to very close union with Him, are beginning to be scorned and misunderstood by this world which would have surrounded you with adulation if you had chosen to smile upon it. Take courage, my child, these are certain signs that our Lord wishes to unite you very closely to Himself and to associate you with the works which He does for His Father’s glory. What if people do treat you as selfish or ungrateful—let it suffice that Jesus sees your heart. As for you, my child, God leaves you your little miseries. You have need of them:

1.—To keep you in that abasement where you often find yourself and where the Good God will always seek you;
2.—That you may glorify Jesus acting in you and that you may not attribute to yourself the little good you might think you do of yourself.

For what regards your weaknesses, your failings, the Good God permits them in order to keep you in humility and in the sense of your nothingness. God can always draw good from our miseries, and when you have been unfaithful and have failed in confidence and abandon to His holy will, if you humble yourself deeply, you will lose nothing but, on the contrary, you will advance in virtue and in the love of God. If everything happened to you just as you could wish, if you were always in robust health, if all your exercises of devotion were performed to your satisfaction, if you had no doubts or uncertainties for the future, etc., with your character you would quickly become full of self-sufficiency and secret pride; and instead of exciting the bounty of the Father of Mercies and of drawing down His compassion on His poor weak creature, you would be an abomination in God’s eyes. Abominatio Domino est omnis arrogans. “Every proud man is an abomination to the Lord.” You must therefore set to work. Our Lord loves you, He sees into the depths of your soul, even into recesses hidden from yourself, and He knows what you need; leave Him act, and don’t try to make our Lord follow your way of seeing things, but follow His in all simplicity.

Uncertainty, anguish, disgust are very bitter remedies necessary to the health of your soul. There is only one road that leads to Jesus, namely, that of Calvary; and whosoever will not follow Jesus upon this road must give up the thought of divine union. “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”

Take courage! I have as much need myself of these considerations as you have, for nature does not like sacrifice, but the reward of sacrifice, namely, the love of God, is so great, that we ought to be ready to bear yet more in order to attain to it.

Blessed Columba Marmion. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Intoxicated with Opprobrium

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Your Beloved was without sin and nothing tainted His holiness.  Yet, as you know He did not count equality with God as something to hold on to but allowed himself to be annihilated with reverence before His Father - allowing himself to be humiliated in every way.  When the Hour came for His Passion, Bousuet tells us he was "intoxicated with opprobrium" - saturated with the world's sin and hatred.

If such were leveled at you, could you manage to remain silent as He and have the nobility of soul to bear all with patience?  This is what your Beloved desires to share with you; that through your humiliations you may set aside all self-love.  He gives you this not that you may experience bitterness.  On the contrary, He desires that His joy may be yours; to know that joy of being united with Him in His Passion.  You will not be entirely His until you have embraced it.  

Christ Jesus wants us to learn of Him especially that He is “meek and humble of Heart.” In Him there was no moral shortcoming or imperfection which could serve as a reason for His abasement. Quite the contrary! His humanity is the humanity of a God: Non rapinam arbitratus est esse se aequalem Deo—“He did not think it robbery to be equal to God.” In that humanity are amassed “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” because “the Divinity dwells corporeally” therein. Its perfection is admirable: not only could no one convict our Lord of sin, but He always accomplished what was pleasing to the Father. What perfection will ever come near that? No moral weakness whatever taints this holy and immaculate High Priest elevated in holiness above the heavens.

But that humanity was created, and, as a creature, it annihilated itself before God with infinite reverence. In order to acknowledge the sovereign rights of His Father, Jesus offered Himself to Him in perfect submission which went even unto death: Exinanivit semetipsum factus obediens usque ad mortem—“He emptied Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, unto the death of the Cross.” For us He suffered every humiliation: the Jews said He was possessed by the devil; they accused Him of working His miracles by obeying the inspiration of Beelzebub, the prince of darkness; they tried to stone Him. Then came the hour of the Passion. He Who is the Eternal One, the Son of God, the Almighty, Infinite Wisdom, He was “filled”—or, to use Bossuet’s expressive term, “intoxicated”—with opprobrium; saturabitur opprobriis. Handcuffed like a malefactor, He was besieged with false witnesses, struck by a servant during a court session, and covered with spittle. Led before Herod, He was covered with a robe that called down insult upon Him; surrounded by a crude and brutal soldiery, He stood before a man who felt for Him nothing but “scorn,” sprevit illum. Who would ever have thought of such humiliations? The God Who, by His wisdom and power, governs heaven and earth treated like a fool, like a play king being made fun of. . . . Suppose the least of these humiliations had been levelled at us, what would we say? Would we have the nobility of soul necessary to “embrace patience and keep silence”? In writing those words, Saint Benedict surely had in mind the example of Christ laden with insults during His Passion: Jesus autem tacebat. Exteriorly Christ kept silence; but in His Heart He repeated the prophetic verses which the Psalmist had sung of Him: “But I am a worm and no man: the reproach of men and the outcast of the people”—Ego autem sum vermis et non homo, opprobrium hominum et abjectio plebis.

Why suffer all these humiliations? Why descend to such depths? To expiate our pride and our self-love. To show us what our humility should be. “Christ did not say: ‘Learn humility from the Apostles or from the Angels.’ No; he said: ‘Learn it from Me. My majesty is exalted enough for My humility to be abysmal.’

I have been praying from the bottom of my heart that God and His Holy Spirit might give you light and strength to find in the trial which He has sent you, not bitterness, but a holy joy in union with that of Jesus in His Passion. It is certain that our Heavenly Father loves us so much that not a hair falls from our head without His permission. I am convinced that He knew and willed everything that has happened to you, even in its minutest details. . . . I earnestly desire that you should unite yourself to Jesus in His acceptance of the humiliations which He endured for us—“He was filled with opprobrium”: saturabitur opprobriis. You will not be entirely His and you will not be able to taste His peace and His joy until you have embraced not only His Cross but also His humiliations. He reached the very bottom of the abyss and He felt the humiliation more than any mortal ever could feel it (He was so noble, so true!), but He welcomed suffering and loved it, because such was His Father’s will. That is what I desire of you—what He desires of you. May God bless and love you.

Blessed Columba Marmion. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

I will confide my heart to His Heart

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

The reflection below captures how we should long for the love of the Lord who has opened his Heart to us and desires that we make it our place of refuge.  It is here that we learn to pray without ceasing and when our hearts are so united with the Lord's, they too will be pierced through - giving rise to a flood of tears of compunction. And once having been washed in these healing tears, the sorrow within will give way to immeasurable joy.  Therefore, as St. Philip counsels, we should enter so deeply as never to be able to find our way out again.  

"In order to manifest more clearly His infinite love, Jesus has opened to us His Heart.

It is to make us understand that all he has endured for us, He has endured just on account of the love with which His Heart was filled.

After showing to us the pains suffered in His Body, Jesus wishes us also the see the love of His most merciful, most faithful, most loving Heart, which inspired Him with the desire and the necessity of suffering for us.

Again, He has opened up for us His Heart in order that we might have a place of refuge in temptation, of consolation in sadness, of protection in trial, of safety in adversity and of light in doubt.

Indeed, to all who enter into this most beneficial Wound of His Heart, Jesus gives the sweetness of holy love, with salvation and eternal happiness.

This wound of the Sacred Heart of Jesus teaches us to pray unceasingly that our hearts may be so pierced with the spear of charity, that tears of compunction and of divine love may be as a river always flowing in our souls.

The Wound of the Side, which is the Wound of the Heart, therefore makes known to us the warm-hearted charity of Jesus Christ, a love which sheds an ineffable radiance over all His actions, all His words, and all His sufferings, filling them with unspeakable sweetness.
O most sweet Jesus in Heaven, shall I find my delight in Thy most sweet Heart?

How great, immeasurable, inexplicable, and incomprehensible is the joy of the elect who read in this most perfect book of Thy Heart the infinite love Thou hast for them.

They understand the fullness of Thy unfailing charity, which nothing can ever weaken, nothing ever destroy.

Oh, how happy and blessed is the mind to which Thou revealest so clearly and unconstrainedly the secrets of Thy most sweet Heart.

I will fall asleep in the Heart of Jesus, the source of true and supreme peace, the fountain whence springs and flows for my soul the endless tranquillity which will set me free for ever from the trials and sorrows of this life.

And since I must so soon leave this world, I place in Jesus my desires, my thoughts, and affections, by entering into His tender and loving Heart.

There I will hide myself as in a sepulchre, and will rest in a sweet sleep.

When, at length, I breathe my last, I will place my Heart in His opened side; I will confide my heart to His Heart."

Lanspergius [John Justus of Landsberg] (1489-1539)