Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I die daily

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

The renunciations you make in the spiritual life are not simply those you choose for yourselves but those God allows under the guidance of His Providence.  These are the most difficult to embrace; for little by little they detach us from self-love until we can say with St. Paul "I die daily".  However, if embraced with faith such adversities will stir within you a greater and greater longing for the fullness of life in Christ.

Such afflictions do a work in your souls that nothing else could have done.  To come through them will make you more dear to the Beloved than you can imagine.  The Lord allows these things to befall you in order to draw you closer to His Sacred Heart.  Therefore, although deprived of all light and consolation, do not lose confidence in the Lord or succumb to melancholy of spirit.

There are the renunciations that, under the guidance of Providence, we must expect in the course of life, and accept as true disciples of Christ Jesus: there are sickness and suffering; the loss of those dear to us, adversities, the oppositions and contradictions that thwart the realisation of our plans; the failure of our undertakings; our disillusionments; moments of weariness, hours of sadness, the burden of the day that weighed so heavily on St. Paul till, as he says himself, he was weary even of life: Ut etiam taederet vivere—all those miseries that detach us from ourselves and creatures by mortifying our nature and making it die in us little by little: Quotidie morior.

“I die daily.” Those are St. Paul’s words; but if he died daily, it was that he might the better live the life of Christ.

I feel the greatest compassion for you in the trial that the Good God is sending you at this present moment. It is a martyrdom. However, I am entirely conformed to the holy will of our dear Lord Who sends you this cross from His inmost Sacred Heart. Believe me, and I say this to you on the part of God: this trial has been sent to you by the love of our Lord, and it is to do a work in your soul that nothing else could have done. It will be the destruction of self-love, and when you come forth from this trial you will be a thousand times dearer to the Sacred Heart than before. So although I feel great pity for you, I would not for anything in the world have it otherwise, because I see that Jesus, Who loves you with a love a thousand times greater than that with which you love yourself, permits this trial to befall you. You may be sure that during all this time I shall recommend you to the Good God in my prayers and sacrifices, asking Him to give you the strength to profit greatly by this grace.
You know that God chooses to lead us along the path of perfection by the light of obedience, and often He deprives us of all other light and leads us without letting us understand His ways. During this kind of trial you must keep yourself in complete submission and have an unshaken confidence—despite all that the devil or your reason may suggest to the contrary—that He will know how to draw His glory and your spiritual advantage from it in quite a different way from that which you would have chosen for yourself. I tell you in the name of God that this trial is a great grace for you, and I am so convinced of it that as soon as I saw its beginning I knew that it would continue some time; it is most painful, it is the greatest cross that God can lay upon the soul He loves, but as long as you are obedient, there is no danger.

Blessed Columba Marmion. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Frequent confession and the resolute desire to make reparation

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

As you know, your holy patron Philip counseled the practice of going to confession frequently.  It is here that you will find that your desire for conversion of life and to make reparation for your sins is renewed again and again.  The priest, in the longer dismissal prayer following absolution, seeks to foster that desire with the words, "May the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the intercession of the Mary and all the angels and saints, whatever good you do or suffering you endure, heal you of your sins, help you to grow in holiness and reward you with eternal life."  These words, Blessed Columba Marmion tells us, hold within them a special efficacy that you should not neglect.  Here, all your acts of expiation and reparation, all the adversities you endure, are linked and united to the sacrament and thus to the merits of Christ.  Fidelity to this practice will help you to see the greatness of the sacrament in which the blood of Christ is applied to you and instill within your hearts' intentions full of love - - impervious to the rust that often clings to our religious practices.  More importantly, it offers you a way to express your love for Christ by your willingness to share in the sufferings of His Passion.

In confession, after the priest, Christ’s minister, has imposed the necessary satisfaction, and, by absolution, has washed our souls in the divine blood, he repeats these words over us: “May whatever of good thou dost, and evil thou bearest, be to thee for the remission of thy sins, the increase of grace, and the reward of everlasting life.” This prayer is not essential to the sacrament, but as it has been ordained by the Church, besides containing teaching that the Church assuredly desires to see us put into practice, it has the value of a sacramental.

By this prayer, the priest gives to our sufferings, to our acts of satisfaction, of expiation, of mortification, of reparation and patience which he thus links and unites with the sacrament, a special efficacy which our faith should not neglect to consider.

“For the remission of thy sins.” The Council of Trent teaches on this subject a very consoling truth. It tells us that God is so munificent in His mercy that, not only the works of expiation that the priest imposes on us, or that we ourselves choose, but even all the sufferings inherent to our condition here below, all the temporal adversities which God sends or permits and we patiently support, serve, through Christ’s merits, as satisfaction with the Eternal Father. That is why—I cannot too often recommend it to you—it is an excellent and most fruitful practice when we present ourselves to the priest, or rather to Jesus Christ, in order to accuse ourselves of our sins, to accept in expiation all the pains, all the annoyances, all the contradictions which may befall us; and still more, to resolve at this moment on such or such a special act of mortification, however light it may be, which we will accomplish until our next confession.

Fidelity to this practice, which enters so well into the spirit of the Church, is very profitable.
To begin with, it removes the danger of routine. A soul that, by faith, thus plunges itself again into the consideration of the greatness of this sacrament in which the blood of Jesus is applied to us, and with an intention full of love, offers to bear patiently, in union with Christ on the Cross, all that happens that is hard, difficult, painful or disappointing in life, such a soul is impervious to the rust which with many persons accompanies frequent confession.

Secondly, this practice is an act of love extremely pleasing to our Lord because it is a mark of our willingness to share the sufferings of His Passion, the most holy of His mysteries.

Blessed Columba Marmion. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

In the nudity of pure faith

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Keep your eyes focused on Christ crucified.  Here is your model for everything.  Here is the one thing necessary.  Refuse Him nothing and let your desire for His will grow daily and in every circumstance.    Pure faith even in the small things of life, stripped of self-will, does more for the Church in an hour than what many can do in a lifetime.

God wants of you great poverty and nudity of spirit . .  .  .  Jesus stripped of everything, separated from everything, lifted upon the Cross and living and dying for His Father, there is your model. The more God unites you to Him, the more your whole life will be Jesus Christ—the greater too will be your poverty and your suffering at the moments when God withdraws Himself.

The soul immolated to God in the nudity of pure faith, of hope and perfect union does more for the Church in an hour than others (more mediocre and less generous) do in their whole life.

Ask for nothing, refuse nothing, desire nothing except what God desires for you, that is to say, your perfection. All the rest is not He Himself. One thing is necessary: It is He.

Place all your consolation in God, not in the sense that you should reject all other joy, but that no human consolation should be necessary for your peace.

Blessed Columba Marmion.