Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Cross reserved for you on the day of the Passion

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

It is an extraordinary thing to consider that Christ had you in mind on the day of His Passion.  When He consented to receive help carrying his burden by Simon the Cyrenean, He revealed to us His will that each of us ought to help Him bear His Cross.  Our Lord says to us: “Accept this share of My sufferings which, in My divine foreknowledge, on the day of My Passion, I reserved for you.” Daughters, consciously unite yourselves more fully to Christ at those times when you are most weary of life, when you find yourself sinking beneath its burden.  It is at those moments that the "virtue and the unction of the Cross" will be communicated to you.

When Jesus was ascending the road to Calvary, bowed down under His heavy Cross, He fell beneath the weight. We see Him humbled, weak, prostrate upon the ground. He Whom Scripture calls “the strength of God,” Virtus Dei, is incapable of carrying His Cross. It is a homage that His humanity renders to the power of God. If He so willed, Jesus could, despite His weakness, bear His Cross as far as Calvary: but, at this moment, the divinity wills, for our salvation, that the humanity should feel its weakness, in order that it should merit for us the strength to bear our sufferings.

God gives us, too, a cross to carry, and each one thinks that his own is the heaviest. We ought to accept the one given to us without reasoning, without saying: “God might have changed such or such a circumstance in my life.” Our Lord tells us: “If any man will come after Me, let him . . . take up his cross and follow Me.”

In this generous acceptation of our cross, we shall find union with Christ . For in bearing our cross, we truly bear our share in that of Jesus. Consider what is related in the Gospel. The Jews, seeing how faint and weary their Victim was becoming, and fearing that He would not arrive as far as Calvary, stop Simon the Cyrenean upon the way, and force him to come to the Saviour’s aid . As I have just said, Christ could, had He so willed, have derived the necessary strength from His divinity , but He consented to be helped. He wishes to show us thereby that each of us ought to help Him to bear His Cross. Our Lord says to us: “Accept this share of My sufferings which, in My divine foreknowledge, on the day of My Passion, I reserved for you.”

How shall we refuse to accept, from Christ’s hands, this sorrow, this trial, this contradiction, this adversity? To drink some drops from the chalice which He Himself offers to us and from which He drank the first? Let us then say: “Yes, Divine Master, I accept this share, with all my heart, because it comes from You.” Let us take it, as Christ took His Cross, out of love for Him and in union with Him. We shall sometimes feel ready to sink beneath the burden. St. Paul confesses that certain hours of his life were so full of weariness and disappointment that he was “weary even of life”: Ut taederet nos etiam vivere. But, like the great Apostle, let us look upon Him Who loved us so much as to deliver Himself up for us; let us unite ourselves to Christ with yet more love at those hours when the body is tortured, or the soul is crushed, or the mind is in darkness, or the deep action of the Spirit in His purifying operations is making itself felt. Then the virtue and unction of His Cross will be communicated to us, and we shall find peace in it as well as strength, and that innermost joy which knows how to smile in the midst of suffering: Superabundo gaudio in omni tribulatione nostra. 

These are the graces which our Lord has merited for us. Indeed when He went up Mount Calvary, helped by the Cyrenean, Christ Jesus, the God-Man, thought of all those who, in the course of the centuries, would help Him to carry His Cross in accepting their own; He merited for them, at that moment, inexhaustible graces of strength, resignation, and self-surrender which would cause them to say like Him: “Father, not My will, but Thine be done.”

Marmion, Blessed Columba 

Monday, March 23, 2015

sufferings serve to nourish love


Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

If we are honest, most of us would have to say that we are afraid of suffering and find the notion of reparation repugnant.  This is why we must constantly have before our eyes the image of the Beloved.  Gradually, what repulsed us begins to nourish a deeper love for Christ.  We begin perhaps not to love the trials and sufferings but most certainly the hand of the One who lays them on our shoulders.

Let us not fear trials: we may pass through great difficulties, undergo serious contradictions, endure deep sufferings, but from the moment we begin to serve God through love, these difficulties, these contradictions and sufferings serve to nourish love. When we love God, we may still feel the cross; God even makes us feel it the more in the measure we advance, because the cross establishes in us a greater likeness to Christ; but we then love, if not the cross itself, at least the hand of Jesus Who lays it on our shoulders; for this hand gives us also the unction of grace wherewith to bear this burden; love is a powerful arm against temptations and an invincible strength in adversities.

Marmion, Blessed Columba

Fastened to the Cross by love

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

It is love that fastened Christ to the Cross and through it He gave His Father the intensity of his suffering.  This was no stoic exercise but rather that outpouring of a generous love.  His Heart was crushed beneath the burden of suffering - melting like wax under its intensity.  Yet, it only made His love burn more hotly, his desire for the Father's will to be done more passionate.  

Likewise daughters, let love help you bear the sufferings of your station in life.  Let grace help you to cling to the difficulties of your duties until you develop an affection for them as opportunities to show your love more perfectly and completely.
   
Let us again look at our Divine Saviour in His Passion. We know that He accepted it out of love for His Father, and that this love was immense: “That the world may know that I love the Father”: Ut cognoscat mundus quia diligo Patrem. But did He not suffer despite this love? Certainly He did: what suffering has ever equalled His suffering which He accepted on coming into this world? Hear the cry which escapes from His Heart crushed beneath the burden: “My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”

Love for His Father lifted Him above the shrinking of His sensitive nature. And yet His agony was terrible, His sorrows indescribable. His Heart, says the Psalmist, became like wax, melting beneath the intensity of suffering. But because He remained fastened to the Cross by love, He gave His Father infinite glory, worthy of the divine perfections. Love will solve all the difficulties which may crop up in our lives likewise. Wherever we may be on earth, we shall always encounter difficulties, vexations, and contradictions. It is all the more impossible to escape them as they stem less from circumstances than from our very condition as human beings.

If we truly love Christ Jesus, we shall not try to avoid the difficulties and sufferings that occur in the faithful practice of the duties of our state of life; we shall embrace them as our Divine Lord embraced His Cross when it was offered to Him. Some have a heavier cross than others; however heavy it may be, love gives them the strength to bear it; the unction of divine grace makes them cling to it instead of seeking how to cast it away, and in the end they come to feel affection for it as a means of continually testifying to their love: Aquae multae non potuerunt exstinguere caritatem.


Marmion, Blessed Columba

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Beautiful enough


Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Nothing surpasses the beauty of Christ's love and knowing the sacrifices and desires of His Heart we must not withhold ourselves from Him; nor spurn that love for something that amounts to much less.  Let us not turn away from the privileged gift as if we feared He could not be enough for us.

"How many among the best Catholics never pay a visit of devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament to speak with Him from the heart, to tell Him their love! But if in spite of knowing Him and His love and the sacrifices and desires of His Heart, they still do not love Him, what an insult! Yes, an insult! For it amounts to telling Jesus Christ that He is not beautiful enough, not good enough, not lovable enough to be preferred to what they love." 

- St. Peter Julian Eymard, The Real Presence

Friday, March 20, 2015

It is the Lord!

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

You must acknowledge that presence of the Lord and unite yourselves to the Beloved in both His Cross and in the Eucharist.  To see and receive Him at the altar of sacrifice should help you to see and receive Him in the oblation of your lives with ever greater courage and love.  To do both is to experience a peace that no one and nothing can take from you.

It is a great perfection to unite ourselves to the Lamb in this offering and to accept, with Him, without murmuring, all the sufferings and all the trials that our Heavenly Father permits, saying: Dominus est. “It is the Lord.”

In hours of trial and suffering, look at Christ Jesus in His agony or hung upon the Cross, and let us say to Him from the depths of our heart: Diligam te et tradam meipsum pro te: “ Because I love Thee I accept Thy will.” Then divine peace— that peace which passes all understanding— will descend into our soul with the sweetness of heavenly grace. This alone will give us the strength and patience to endure all things in silence of heart and lips: Tacita conscientia patientiam amplectatur.

Marmion, Blessed Columba

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Complaining to God

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Even as you seek to take up your share of suffering for the sake of the Church, you must not romanticize the trials you face.  To say "yes" to God and to the Cross does not mean you will be impervious to pain or never cry out to be spared.  Crushed by the weight of the Cross or filled with fear over impending trials, there will be part of you that is overcome and wants to be spared; to cry out to God who seems to have forsaken or forgotten you.  Yet, such a complaint can rise from the heart that still willingly accepts the suffering and accepts it lovingly as Our Lord Himself did when troubled in spirit and sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Beware, however, of a murmuring that is absent of such love and expresses not simply repugnance but revolt of the soul.

. . . we must distinguish the difference between complaining and murmuring. Complaining is in nowise an imperfection , it may even be a prayer. Look at our Lord Jesus, the Model of all holiness. Upon the Cross, did He not complain to His Father of being forsaken? But what is it that makes the difference between these two attitudes? Murmuring evidently implies opposition, malevolence (at least transitory) in the will; however, it proceeds more formally from the mind ; it is a sin of the mind derived from the spirit of resistance. It is a contentious manifestation. Complaint on the contrary, if we suppose it to be pure, comes only from the heart; it is the cry of a heart that is crushed, that feels suffering, but however accepts it entirely, and lovingly. We can feel the difficulties of obedience, experience even movements of repugnance: that may happen to the most perfect soul; there is no imperfection in this as long as the will does not adhere to these movements of revolt which sometimes get the better of the sensitive nature. Did not our Lord Himself feel such inward trouble? Coepit taedere et pavere et maestus esse. And what did He Who is our Ideal say in these terrible moments? Pater, si possibile est, transeat a me calix iste. “My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me.” What a plaint wrung from God’s innermost Heart in the face of the most terrible obedience ever proposed here below! But likewise how this cry from the depths of crushed sensitive nature is covered by the cry, far deeper still, of entire abandonment to the divine will: Verumtamen fiat voluntas tua, non mea! From murmuring, on the contrary, love is absent: therefore murmuring separates from God; it destroys precisely what our holy Patriarch wishes to establish in us: that “amen” of every instant, that loving “fiat” coming more from the heart than the lips: in a word, that perpetual and incessant submission of our whole being to the divine will for love of Christ.

Marmion, Blessed Columba

In an infinite furnace


Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

The very nature of the love of God is that it must suffer in the face of sin; for it consumes, perfects and purifies all that it touches.  If we surrender to this love then we shall come to share in its qualities.  To abide in Christ, then, is to endure the trials that He in His love and wisdom deigns to give to our souls.  It is to enter into the crucible of His Heart - an infinite furnace.

The love of God is as incomprehensible and mysterious as God Himself. In truth, God is love: Deus caritas est. When we surrender ourselves to this God of love, when we rest on His fatherly bosom, we find ourselves in an infinite furnace. “Our God is a consuming fire,” a fire which tends to consume everything that stands in the way of union. When, therefore , this fire comes into contact with imperfection, it produces suffering. Weighted down with the sins of men (“ Surely He hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows”), Jesus became “an accursed one” and “sin” itself for our sake: “Being made a curse for us, for it is written: Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree.” From the first moment of the Incarnation, He flung Himself onto the bosom of the Father with love and perfect abandonment. And the Father loved Him with a perfect love: “The Father loved the Son and gave all things into His hand”— Pater enim diligit Filium et omnia dedit ei in manu. Christ is “the Son of His love.” And yet, see how the God of love dealt with Him, delivering Him up to be spat upon, scourged,  crowned with thorns, steeped in the anguish of Calvary. Thus will it be with us if we surrender to Love. Jesus, however, has gone before us. He has carried the greater part of our crosses and has left us only the small part required by the wisdom and the justice of His Father in order that, by our sufferings, we might be able to fill up those things that are wanting to the Passion of Christ. Our dependence upon the will of the Father is the homage which is due to Him as the First Principle of all things. God needs no one; He can raise up instruments to carry out His plans as He pleases. Still, our utter dependence upon Him— in everything He wills or permits—honours Him. That is the one thing He asks of us. All who seek God sincerely sooner or later endure trials. That is necessary in order to be able to make progress of any kind. “He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit.” “And every branch that beareth fruit My Father will cleanse, that it may bear more fruit.” “Unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, itself remaineth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” It is with us as with nature, which must die, in a sense, every year and remain in the icy grip of winter. It seems to die, but that death is necessary before spring can come. So it is with your soul because God has found pleasure in it. I shall pray every day that God may make you submissive and humbly abandoned into His hands and so be able to realise the designs which His love and His wisdom have over your soul.

Marmion, Blessed Columba 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Open your eyes and see

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Hold fast to the Lord with courage; for to know intimacy with Him in this life is also to let the nails that pierce Him through become your own.  Indeed, the deeper the union the more one's life in this world becomes a life of suffering.  

Therefore, do not be afraid and refuse Him nothing.  You will know ever more clearly how weak you are in yourselves, so do not become discouraged when confronted with a little of your own misery.  Indeed, open your eyes that you may see and feel it fully, before it comes upon you suddenly and without your hearts prepared to embrace it with love.

May our Lord take you all to Himself and give you courage to endure the trials so necessary for those who wish to be united to the Crucified. Here below our Lord presents Himself to us upon the Cross; the crucifix is His official image, and union with Him is impossible if we do not wish to feel the nails that pierce Him through. You remember Jesus’ words to the two disciples whom he walked with on the road to Emmaus. “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and so to enter into His glory?” We are His members and it is impossible for us to enter into His glory without having suffered with Him. The more one is united with Jesus Christ, the more one lives by His life, and this life here below is a life of suffering. St. Paul says, “We have not a High Priest who cannot have compassion on our infirmities : but one tempted in all things like as we are, without sin.” Look at His holy Mother, no one ever suffered as she did, for no one has ever been so united with Him as she was. So, courage! you are on the right road, and one day you will understand this more clearly. I rejoice that you have quite decided to refuse nothing to our Lord Who, certainly, is calling you to great union with Him. To arrive at this union, we must pass through many sorrows and trials and, above all, that of feeling how weak we are in ourselves. It is impossible, dear child, to arrive at intimate union with a crucified Love, without feeling at times the thorns and nails. It is this which causes the union . You must not be discouraged if our Lord lets you see a little of your misery . He bears with it always . . . hides it from you, but you must see and feel it, before it comes out.

Union with God, chapter 3, section 2

Marmion, Blessed Columba 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The soul's fecundity in union with the Beloved is unlimited



Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

The Lord desires to extend His influence over the entire Church through the intimate and complete union you share with Him.  As He told St. Catherine of Siena, your prayer and unceasing supplication rises up like incense for the salvation of souls.  If you give your entire soul over to Him, what unique and power it shall possess over His Sacred Heart and so what a blessing your life will be for the entire Church.  How wonderfully you will cooperate with Him for the conversion of sinners, the perseverance of the just, the strength of those in agony, the holiness of His priests. The fruitfulness of the soul in Christ is unlimited: bearing Him within, the extent to which you will touch others cannot be measured.  

It is not only over works which the Lord performs in it that the soul can rejoice: its life of complete union with Jesus extends that influence over the entire Church. Our Lord explained this truth to Saint Catherine of Siena: “Oh, how sweet is this dwelling of the soul in Me— sweeter than all sweetness— through perfect union with Me! The will itself is no longer really an intermediary in this union between the soul and Myself, since it has become one and the same thing with Me.” And as if, having posited the premise, He would immediately draw the conclusions, He added: “The fruit of its humble and constant prayers spreads like a perfume throughout the whole world. The incense of it desires rises towards Me in unceasing supplication for the salvation of souls. It is a voice which, without human words, forever cries forth in the presence of My Divine Majesty.” Shall we who live by faith be astonished at such widespread power? Is not God the sole guardian of the city of souls, and the sole support of the edifice of the Church? Does not He hold the eternal destiny of souls in His hands? And is not Christ the only Way, the unique Truth, the true Life of every man who comes into the world? But what credit with Him, what power over Him, does the soul possess when it belongs entirely to Him? It is all-powerful over the Sacred Heart, and its whole life is a constant calling down of the Lord’s graces and blessings on behalf of His people.  Therein lies one of the most profound aspects of the dogma of the communion of saints. The nearer one comes to God, the Author and Principle of every gift that adorns and rejoices hearts, the more truly does he become the benefactor of his brethren. How many graces it can implore, obtain, and wrest from Christ for the entire Church. How powerfully it co-operates in the conversion of sinners, the perseverance of the just, the salvation of those in agony, and the entrance of suffering souls into the blessedness of heaven! How admirably productive it is! Nature’s fecundity is limited; the soul’s is unlimited. A radiant beam shines forth from such a soul; those who draw near to it breathe “the good odour of Christ.” A sort of divine virtue emanates from it to touch souls, obtaining pardon for them; helping, consoling, strengthening them; giving them a helping hand, bestowing peace and joy on them, and making them grow for the glory of Christ. The reason is that Christ lives in that soul; since He is always living and therefore never inactive and since, again, His action is love, He uses that soul to enlighten, vivify, and save others. It really co-operates with Him in the redemption. Its action and fecundity cannot be measured. It is like the snow on mountaintops which, nearer the warm rays of the sun, melts and flows down as living water to irrigate the valleys and plains below.

Sponsa Verbi, chapter 7

Marmion, Blessed Columba 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Yield yourself up to the wisdom and love of your Spouse



Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

God has deigned for certain souls to share in the sufferings of his Son in a more intimate fashion. This aspect of the mystery of redemption is often neglected by the faithful and so some few souls are called to be victims of expiation and praise.  Precious in the eyes of the Lord, He delights in them.  This is not an easy path to tread; for it is to share in something of the darkness, powerlessness, and forsakenness of the Crucified.  You must, therefore, yield yourself into His hands and give without measure and without fear.  There is no need to ask for suffering or to seek it out.  Rather, let your Spouse determine what His interests demand.  In this, the Eucharistic life of Jesus must be your model and like Him you must give yourself in patience, kindness and indulgence - even in the face of ingratitude.  Let not your soul be occupied with trifles but rather with the interests of your Lord and souls.  

Our Lord is Master of His gifts and, without any merit on their part, He calls certain souls to more intimate union with Him, to share His sorrows and sufferings for the glory of His Father and the salvation of souls: Adimpleo in corpore meo quae desunt passionum Christi pro corpore ejus quod est Ecclesia: “ I fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for His body, which is the Church.” “We are the body of Christ and members of His members.” God could have saved men without them having to suffer or to merit, as He does in the case of little children who die after baptism. But by a decree of His adorable wisdom, He had decided that the world’s salvation should depend upon an expiation of which His Son Jesus should undergo the greater part but in which His members should be associated. Many men neglect to supply their share of suffering accepted in union with Jesus Christ , and of prayers and good works. That is why our Lord chooses certain souls to be associated with Him in the great work of the Redemption. These are elect souls, victims of expiation and praise. These are dear to Jesus beyond all one can imagine. His delight is to be in them. Now, my dear daughter, I am convinced that you are one of these souls. Without any merit on your part, Jesus has chosen you. If you are faithful, you will attain close union with our Lord, and once united to Him, lost in Him, your life will bear much fruit for His glory and the salvation of souls. On the day of your mystical nuptials one sees only the flowers of the crown that Jesus places upon your head. But, my daughter, never forget that the spouse of a Crucified God is a victim. I say this to you, for I foresee that you will suffer, and you have need of much courage, much faith, much confidence. There are deserts to be traversed, you must pass through darkness and obscurity, days when you feel powerless and forsaken. Without that, your love would never be deep nor strong. But if you are faithful and abandoned to Him, Jesus will always hold you by the hand. “Though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for Thou art with me.” So, my dear daughter, give yourself without stinting, yield yourself up without fear. Do not ask for suffering, but yield yourself up to the wisdom and love of your Spouse that He may operate in you all that the interests of His glory demand. He will come to you every day in the Holy Sacrament in order to change you into Himself. Let this eucharistic life of Jesus be a continual model for you. There, Jesus is a Victim immolated to the glory of His Father, and given over as food to His brethren, even to those who receive Him with coldness and ingratitude, or to those who outrage Him. You, too, my daughter, be every day more and more a victim immolated to the glory of the Blessed Trinity in prayer, Divine Office, and mortification, and a victim of charity immolated to souls by expiation, and to your sisters by patience, kindness, indulgence. Be a great soul who forgets herself to think of the interests of Jesus and of souls. Do not be stayed by the trifles which occupy the thoughts and the life of so many consecrated souls. Let us help one another to arrive at this sublime ideal which I desire for myself as I do for you.

Union with God, chapter 3, section 2

Marmion, Blessed Columba 

Monday, March 9, 2015

No higher ambition


Dom Columba Marmion could not wish, as spiritual father, to do anything but share with his beloved spiritual daughter in whatever the Heavenly Father would will for them.  And if it should be the Cross, to share in the shame and suffering of Christ, he could desire no higher gift and hold no higher ambition than to walk the path of perfect union.  There is nothing more fruitful for the Church and the salvation of soul and so nothing to be more highly valued.

I have seen that you have been suffering, I have suffered with you. We are so much one! Yet I could not have wished it otherwise. I have placed you with Jesus like His Amen deep in the Father’s bosom. He loves you infinitely more and infinitely better than I do. I yield you up to Him as Mary yielded up Jesus, and if He wills to fasten you on the Cross with your Spouse, if He wills for you shame, suffering, and misunderstanding, if He wills for you even immolation, I will it too as I will it for myself. We are not made for enjoyment down here, our happiness is on high, Sursum corda. In the divine plan all good comes from Calvary, from suffering. St. John of the Cross says that our Lord scarcely ever gives the gift of contemplation and perfect union except to those who have laboured much, suffered much for Him. Now my ambition for you is this perfect union, so fruitful for the Church and souls. St. Paul tells us, Libenter gloriabor in infirmitatibus meis UT inhabitet in me VIRTUS Christi. I wish to see you quite weak in yourself but filled with the virtus Christi. Jesus has promised that through Holy Communion not only shall we abide in Him but also that He will abide in us. That is the virtus Christi. The more our life flows from Him, the more we have the virtus Christi—the more it glorifies the Father. In hoc clarificatus est Pater meus UT FRUCTUM PLURIMUM afferatis; qui manet in me et ego in eo, hic fert fructum multum. “In this is My Father glorified, that you bring forth very much fruit; he that abideth in Me, and I in Him, the same beareth much fruit.”

Union with God, chapter 3, section 2

Marmion, Blessed Columba

Hoping against hope

Often it is at those times that we feel the least security about our life and anything within it, that we are closest to God and place our confidence in His loving Heart.  The misery that we often see allows us to continually gaze upon the divine mercy as well as giving God an opportunity to show His goodness.  On any given day, we may feel we are being immolated upon the altar, but when we remain "hoping against hope, in those moments we give glory to God.

In your letter there is a phrase which pleases me very much, because I see in it the source of great glory for our Lord. You say, “There is nothing, absolutely nothing in me upon which I can take a little security. Therefore I do not cease to cast myself with confidence into the Heart of my Master.” That, my daughter, is the true way, for all that God does for us is the result of His mercy which is touched by the avowal of this misery; and a soul that sees her misery and presents it continually to the gaze of divine mercy, gives great glory to God by leaving Him the opportunity of communicating His goodness to her. Continue to follow this attraction, and let yourself be led, in the midst of the darkness of trial, to the nuptials of the Lamb to which He destines you.  Our Lord urges me to pray much for you that you may remain with great generosity on the altar of immolation with Jesus. A soul, even a very miserable one, thus united to Jesus in His agony, but like Abraham, “hoping against hope,” gives immense glory to God and helps Jesus in His work in the Church.

Union with God, chapter 4, section 2

Marmion, Blessed Columba 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

My Peace I give you



 Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Adore the Lord by uniting all your desires to one end - the embrace of the Divine Will with trust in God's Providence.  In this alone will the peace of the Kingdom be established in your hearts.  Happy are those who understand that His peace is not the peace of this world and have learned to live in the depths.  A city of peace will rise up in your hearts that no one and no thing can steal from you.  The sign of this is a great calm and tranquillity in the face of all trial.

When we thus submit ourselves entirely to Christ Jesus, when we abandon ourselves to Him, when our soul only responds, like His own, with a perpetual Amen to all that He asks of us in the name of His Father; when, after His example, we abide in this attitude of adoration before all the manifestations of the divine will, in face of the least permissions of His Providence, then Christ Jesus establishes His peace in us: His peace, not that which the world promises, but the true peace which can only come from Himself: Pacem meam do vobis; non quomodo mundus dat, ego do vobis. Indeed, such adoration produces in us the unity of all desires. The soul has but one thing in view: the establishing in her of Christ’s kingdom. Christ Jesus, in return, satisfies this desire with magnificent plenitude . The soul possesses the perfect contentment of her deepest tendencies because the satisfaction of her supernatural desires has been reduced to one; she is in the right order of things; she lives in peace. Happy the soul who has thus understood the order established by the Father, that soul who seeks only to be conformed by love to His admirable order, where all leads up to Christ Jesus: she tastes peace, a peace of which St. Paul says that it surpasses all understanding and defies all expression. Doubtless, here below, peace is not always sensible; upon earth we are in a condition of trial and, most often , peace is won by conflict. Christ has not restored to us that original justice which established harmony in Adam’s soul, but the soul that lays hold on God alone participates in the divine stability; temptations , sufferings, trials touch only the surface of our being; the depths where peace reigns are inaccessible to disturbance. The surface of the sea may be violently agitated by the waves during the tempest; the deep waters remain tranquil. We may be slighted, opposed, persecuted, be unjustly treated, our intentions and deeds may be misunderstood; temptation may shake us, suffering may come suddenly upon us; but there is an inner sanctuary which none can reach; here is the sojourn of our peace, because in this innermost secret of the soul dwell adoration, submission and abandonment to God. “I love my God,” said St. Augustine, “no one takes Him from me: no one takes from me what I ought to give Him, for that is enclosed within my heart. . . . O inward riches which no one or anything can take away!” In the centre of the soul that loves God there rises up the civitas pacis which no noise of earth can trouble, that no attack can surprise. We may truly say that nothing which is exterior, outside us, can, unless we so will, touch our inward peace: this essentially depends on only one thing, namely, our attitude towards God. It is in Him that we must trust. “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?” If the wind of temptation and trial arises, I have only to take refuge with Him. “Lord, save me, for without Thee, I perish.” And our Lord, as formerly when in the ship tossed about by the waves, will Himself calm the tempest with a single gesture; and there will come “a great calm”: Et facta est tranquillitas magna. If we really seek God in everything, by following in the footsteps of Christ, Who is the sole way that leads to the Father; if we strive to be detached from all, that we may only desire the Master’s good pleasure; if, when the Spirit of Jesus speaks to us, there is in us no inflexibility of soul, no resistance to His inspirations, but only docility and adoration, we may be assured that peace , deep and abundant, will reign in us; for, O Lord, “much peace have they that love Thy law”: Pax multa diligentibus legem tuam.

Christ, the Ideal of the Monk, Part II, chapter 18, sections 2 and 3

Marmion, Blessed Columba 

Friday, March 6, 2015

By the light of obedience


Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

When sufferings come upon you and perhaps demand from you a daily kind of martyrdom, it is often a trial sent by God Himself to do a work in your soul that nothing else could have done.  If it seems that it destroys the last ounce of self-love within you, be assured that the Lord is drawing you closer to His Sacred Heart than ever before.  Despite their compassion and pity for you in your suffering, no true lover of God or one who truly loves you would seek to steal this cross from you.  The devil will seek to pull you and others from this narrow way, but hold fast to the path of perfection by the light of obedience.

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.

Union with God, chapter 3, section 2

Marmion, Blessed Columba 

I die daily

You don't have to look for opportunities to renounce your will in the extraordinary.  Rather, each day presents you with occasions wherein you can mortify yourself - making your nature die in you little by little so that you can live more fully the life of Christ.  To embrace these in love and faith in God often becomes a precious prayer that cries out to Him.

. . . 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.

Christ, the Life of the Soul, Part II, chapter 4, sections 4 and 5

Marmion, Blessed Columba 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Whatever good you do or sufferings you endure

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Be especially willing to accept all trials that may come in reparation for your sins and to be mindful and resolute to do so at the moment of Confession and as the priest exhorts you at the conclusion of the Sacrament. ("May the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of all the Saints, whatever good you do or sufferings you endure, heal you of your sins, help you to grow in holiness and reward you with everlasting life").  Seek in particular in between occasions of going to confession to faithfully practice mortification and with a willing love to embrace all that is hard, difficult, painful or disappointing in life.  Such a willingness shows your desire to share in the sufferings of our Lord's 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.

Christ, the Life of the Soul, Part II, chapter 4, section 6

Marmion, Blessed Columba 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Abandoned to Love

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

It takes great faith to trust that your sufferings are a part of God's mercy and plan for your sanctification.  As he draws you close to Himself, He will allow you to be touched by His own deepest sufferings.  The experience of abandonment is the greatest of these.  Think not, however, that they are a sign of God's displeasure.  Just the opposite.  It is because you offer yourself and entrust yourself so completely that He will make you perfect through suffering.

Beyond the shadow of a doubt , your interior sufferings are a great part of God’s very merciful plan for the sanctification of your soul. We have all gone through that winter, because “if the grain of wheat falling into the ground die not, itself remaineth alone; but if it die, it beareth much fruit.” It was necessary that your soul be harrowed by suffering and that you realize that the feeling of being totally abandoned by God is the greatest of all sufferings—“ My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Without these trials, you would never be anything but a weak creature. Because you were pleasing to God, it was necessary that you be tested by hardship. . . . After the winter, spring will come, and then summer. . . .

Mélanges Marmion, p. 114

Marmion, Blessed Columba 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Christus mihi vita

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

God desires to give you all; that Christ might be your life.  Yet, first you must trust and let go of the false self that you so often cling to and allow him to free you from its grip through suffering.  Do not fear this; for the more He allows you to experience your emptiness and poverty, the more He will take your soul to Himself and bring it into union with Him.  He will bring you forth from the tomb.  Until then, lay at his feet all of your earthly faculties for Him to use as He wills.

There are some people who have a great deal of activity; they pray, mortify themselves, and give themselves up to good works; they advance but rather limpingly, because their activity is partly human. There are others whom God has taken in hand, and they advance very quickly, because He Himself acts in them. But before reaching this second state , there is much to suffer, for God must first make the soul feel that she is nothing and can do nothing; she must needs be able to say in all sincerity: Ut jumentum factus sum apud te: ad nihilum redactus sum et nescivi. My dear child, it is this that the Good God is about to do in you, and you will have much to suffer before arriving at this result; but do not be alarmed if you feel everything is boiling over in you; don’t be discouraged if next you feel your incapacity, for God after having as it were annihilated your human activity, your natural energies, will Himself take your soul and bring it to union with Him. When you make the Way of the Cross , unite yourself to the sentiments that our dear Saviour had; it cannot fail to please the Eternal Father, if we offer to Him the image of His Son. At the fourteenth station, we see our Lord’s body exinanitum, but after three days, He comes forth from the tomb, full of life, of splendid life. It will be the same for us too; if we let God act in us, after He has destroyed all there is that is human and natural in us, we shall be filled with His life; it will then be the realisation of these words, Christus mihi vita. This is what you must arrive at; the Eternal Father wishes to see in you only His Son. Remember St. Paul’s words: Ut inveniar in illo, that is your way, my child. Your personality is still too strong; keep before the eyes of your soul the ideal that is to be found in Jesus Christ, where all comes from the Word without there being a human personality in Christ. I recommend you to take each of your faculties every morning and lay them down at Christ’s feet, that all may come from Him and that you no longer act except out of love for Him.

Union with God, chapter 2, section 4

Marmion, Blessed Columba 

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Lover Resembles the Beloved

Far from being discouraged by the trials and tribulations of life, the Christian must come to see in them her high calling.  The deeper the union and communion with the Beloved the more fully one should come to resemble Him in His deepest mysteries; in particular, in the mystery of the Cross. It is only when the branches of the vine are pruned that it produces great fruit.  Likewise, Daughters, the Divine Husbandman will through temptations, adversities, desolations and loneliness help the soul yield an abundance harvest of divine love. 

Let us no longer be discouraged by trials and disappointments. They will be so much the greater and deeper according as God calls us higher. Wherefore this law? Because it is the way by which Jesus passed; and the more we wish to remain united to Him, the more we ought to resemble Him in the deepest and innermost of His mysteries. St. Paul, as you know, sums up all the inner life in the practical knowledge of Jesus, “Jesus Crucified.” And our Lord Himself tells us that the Father, Who is the Divine Husbandman, purges the branch so that it may bear more fruit : Purgabit eum ut fructum plus afferat. God has a powerful hand, and His purifying operations reach depths that only the saints know; by the temptations that He permits, by the adversities that He sends, by the desolations and terrible loneliness that He sometimes produces in the soul, He tries it so as to detach it from all that is created; He digs deeply into it so as to empty it of itself. He pursues it, He “persecutes it in order to possess it”; He penetrates it to the marrow, He “breaks its bones,” as Bossuet somewhere says, “so as to reign alone.” Happy the soul that thus yields itself into the hands of the eternal Husbandman. By His Spirit, all of fire and love, Who is the Finger of God, the Divine Artist engraves in it the features of Christ, so as to make it resemble the Son of His love according to the ineffable design of His wisdom and mercy.

Christ in His Mysteries, Part II, chapter 20, section 5

Marmion, Blessed Columba