Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Rich in infirmities

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Lean on Christ and let Him bring you into the sanctuary of the Father's bosom.  Remember that he has "chosen the weak, and feeble and the things of nothing. . . "  Despite your defects, which are no doubt greater than you can see, God loves you and desires to supply your littleness, meanness, and insufficiency with his greatness, wisdom, and generosity.  Look to God more than to yourselves . . . 

You are rich in infirmities and were you to lean on Christ alone, doing all, suffering all in His name, united with Him, He would render you more and more agreeable to His Father. He would bring you with Him into that sanctuary which He calls Sinus Patris, His Father’s bosom, and there, under God’s eye, you would constantly try to please Him by doing what you feel is most pleasing to Him. Those alone dwell in God’s bosom who have an immense confidence in His fatherly goodness and mercy which are infinite, and who try their best to please Him in all things.

Now there is your programme for the present. . . . I feel Our Lord has given you to me as my child whom I am to present to Him as one of the triumphs of His mercy, for St. Paul says, “He hath chosen the weak, and the feeble and the things of nothing that no flesh might glory in His sight.”

I have been thinking about your soul. Despite your very real defects and misery which are doubtless much greater than what we see, God loves you dearly, and wishes to substitute His greatness to your littleness; His generosity to your meanness; His truth and wisdom to your insufficiency. He can do all that if you only let Him. Confiteor tibi, Pater, Domine caeli et terrae, quia abscondisti haec a sapientibus et revelasti ea PARVULIS. You are one of these very little people whom God deigns to look upon.

Try to look much more at God than at yourself; to glory in your miseries; to love virtue more than you fear vice; to glorify the infinite merits and virtues of Jesus by drawing from them lovingly to supply your need.

Now, my child, there’s a programme for a whole year, yea, for a life.”

Blessed Columba Marmion

Sunday, April 26, 2015

He has espoused all our miseries

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

A thought which ought to aid and encourage you is that all that God does for us proceeds from His mercy. In aeternum misericordia aedificabitur in caelis. God builds an eternal monument to His mercy in Heaven. The stones of this monument are the miserable who draw down mercy by their misery. For mercy is goodness in face of misery. The foundation stone of this monument is Christ Who has espoused all our miseries. Vere languores nostros ipse tulit et dolores nostros ipse portavit. He deifies them and gives them an immense merit and value in His Father’s sight. If every morning you unite your fatigues, your weariness, your sufferings of every kind with those of Jesus Christ, He will take them upon Himself and make them His own. As our Blessed Father St. Benedict says: Per PATIENTIAM passionibus Christi PARTICIPAMUS. In patiently suffering the sorrows and fatigues of life we share in the Passion of Jesus Christ. Then, His strength, His virtue, reign in us. Libenter gloriabor in infirmitatibus meis ut inhabitet in me virtus Christi.

Oh! my dear child, it is a great grace to understand this and to follow Jesus in His faintness and weariness. Nothing can draw down divine favours and mercies more than this patient union of our sufferings and weaknesses with those of Jesus.

As subject of examen, take the patient and loving acceptation of the trials and sufferings of your life. In this way your life will become a continual crying out to the Heart of the Heavenly Father.

****

There is no heavier cross here below than that state of exhaustion and lassitude produced by the climate and by the life you have to lead. But, believe me, there is nothing that brings about the true divine life within us like union with the weakness of Jesus.

In espousing our nature in the Incarnation, He took upon Himself all our weaknesses, all our powerlessness, all our sufferings; He made them His own: Vere languores nostros ipse tulit et dolores nostros ipse portavit. At the time of the Incarnation the Word did not assume a glorious body, like that of Tabor, not an impassible body like that of the Resurrection, but in similitudinem carnis peccati, a body made in the likeness of sinful flesh, like to ours in all things, save personal sin. In taking our sins, He uplifted and rendered our weaknesses divine, and thenceforth they cry out in us to the Father, like those of Jesus Christ Himself.

It is by pure faith, by love without any feeling that this is brought about; and, in place of our weaknesses, we receive the strength of Christ in an immense degree.

I want so much to teach you this great truth and to help you to put it into practice. To do so, you must give yourself up unconditionally to Jesus Christ by accepting in pure faith all that He sends or permits. Know, my daughter, that in a soul like yours, which in reality seeks only Him, there is an unconscious prayer, unfelt but very real, which rises up to God in the midst of your sense of failure, for our desires are “true prayers for Him Who searcheth the reins and hearts.” Desiderium pauperum exaudivit auris tua. But, for this, the great virtue for you must be patience. Patientia vobis NECESSARIA est. It is by patience, the absence of any, even inward, murmuring, by meeting every trouble with a smile, that Jesus makes you share in His Passion.

Christ divinises our sufferings and gives them an immense merit and value in His Father’s sight. If every morning you unite your fatigues, your weariness, your sufferings of every kind with those of Jesus, He will take them upon Himself and make them His own.

Blessed Columba Marmion

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Essential Disposition

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Let the Eucharist shape the contours of your life and relationship with Christ and all others; let it be an oblation of love, an immolation of self for and with the Beloved.  This must be your essential and habitual disposition.  Associate all that you do throughout the day with the mystery of the altar.  Receive the Eucharist as often as you may for "it is only by Communion that we perfectly enter into the thoughts of Jesus, that we fully respond to the desires of His Heart."

The Eucharist is not only a sacrifice, the sacrifice of the Cross recalled and renewed, it is also a sacrament, the sacrament of union, as the word “communion” indicates; it is in order to unite Himself to us that our Lord comes to us. To unite is to make of two things only one thing. But we unite ourselves to Christ as He is. Now every Communion presupposes the Sacrifice of the Altar, and consequently, the immolation of the Cross. In the offering of the Holy Mass, Christ associates us to His state of High Priest, and in Communion He causes us to participate in His condition of Victim. The Holy Sacrifice supposes, as I have said, that inward and entire oblation that our Lord made to the will of His Father when entering into the world, an oblation that He often renewed during His life and completed by His death on Calvary. All this, says St. Paul, is recalled to our minds by Communion: “As often as you shall eat this bread and drink the chalice, you shall show forth the death of the Lord.” QUOTIESCUMQUE enim manducabitis panem hunc et calicem bibetis, mortem Domini annuntiabitis donec veniat.  Jesus Christ gives Himself to us as Food, but after having been first offered as Victim; Victim and Food are, in the Eucharist, sacrifice and sacrament—two inseparable characters. And that is why this habitual disposition of giving oneself totally is so important. Christ gives Himself to us in the measure we give ourselves to Him, to His Father, to our brethren who are the members of His mystical body; this essential disposition makes us one with Christ, but with Christ as victim; it establishes sympathy between the two terms of the union.

****

But Communion itself supposes sacrifice. That is why we already associate ourselves with the mystery of the altar in assisting at the Sacrifice of the Mass.

We would have given anything to have been at the foot of the Cross with the Blessed Virgin, St. John, and Magdalen. Now the oblation of the altar reproduces and renews the immolation of Calvary in order to perpetuate its remembrance, and apply its fruits.

During Holy Mass, we ought to unite ourselves to Christ, but to Christ immolated. He is, upon the altar, Agnus tamquam occisus, the Lamb offered as a victim, and it is with His sacrifice that Jesus wills to associate us. After the consecration, the priest with his hands joined together upon the altar—a gesture which signifies the union of the priest and all the faithful with Christ’s sacrifice—says this prayer: “We beseech Thee, almighty God, command that these things be carried to Thy sublime altar, in the sight of the Divine Majesty.”

The Church here places in relation two altars: that of the earth and that of heaven—not that there is a material altar in the sanctuary of heaven, but the Church wishes to point out there is but one sacrifice: the immolation which is accomplished mystically upon earth is one with the offering that Christ, our High Priest, makes of Himself in the bosom of the Father, to Whom he offers for us the satisfactions of His Passion.

“These things,” of which the Church speaks, says Bossuet, are truly the body and blood of Jesus, but they are this body and this blood together with us all and with our desires and prayers, and all these compose one same oblation.

Thus in this solemn moment, we are introduced ad interiora velaminis, in the sanctuary of the Divinity, but we are brought there by Jesus and with Him; and there, before the Infinite Majesty, in presence of all the heavenly court, we are presented with Christ to the Father in order that the Father may fill us “with all heavenly benediction and grace”: Omni benedictione caelesti et gratia repleamur.

It is only by being united to the victim that one perfectly participates in the sacrifice—but on condition that we participate in this sacrifice by the reception of the body and blood of Jesus: Quotquot ex hac altaris participtione sacrosanctum Filii tui corpus et sanguinem sumpserimus.
It is then only by Communion that we perfectly enter into the thoughts of Jesus, that we fully respond to the desires of His Heart on the day on which He instituted the Eucharist: “Take ye and eat”; “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man . . . you shall not have life in you.”

Blessed Columba Marmion

Thursday, April 23, 2015

shudder, yes, but kiss the hand of God


Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Do you yearn to be united with your Beloved?  Are you willing to place yourselves at the disposal of crucified love at every moment - to lay down your lives for He who ever remains Victim in the tabernacle?

Jesus is ever in your heart; lay down your whole being at His feet a hundred times a day, leaving to Him the full disposal of everything. And then, when He takes you at your word, when He cuts into the living flesh, shudder, yes, but kiss the hand of God Who is preparing you for divine union with the Crucified.

For the sacrifice of Jesus Christ never ceases, for He is ever immolated on an altar, and He ever remains Victim in the tabernacle. Our life ought always to be united to this life of Jesus Christ as Priest and Victim.


Blessed Columba Marmion

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The altar of your heart


Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

As the day begins, seek immediately to offer all that you are and have to God and for His good pleasure.  Set yourselves to do all things with the same intention as Christ - in obedience offering yourselves, body and soul, as a holocaust and victim of love for the human race.  

Throughout the day, continue to think of your morning Mass where the unity you desire was established; in order that you may accept all the troubles and afflictions which God in His providence sends you.  Accept all from His will and in conformity to Christ and so practically live the Mass.  Let your heart be an altar whence the incense of your sacrifice and submission unceasing rises up to God.

Each morning, let us join ourselves to Jesus in His obedience, in the entire submission that He made of Himself at the moment of the Incarnation: “Behold me, O my God, I give myself to Thee, to Thy good pleasure. Because I love Thee, I will give Thee the homage that consists in submitting my whole being to Thy will, whatever it may be.

Lord Jesus, in union with that intention and that love with which You became obedient unto death, and the death of the Cross, and ever did that which was pleasing to our Father, I wish to do all things today in Your name and in the spirit of humility, obedience, and submission.

Eternal Father, even as Your Divine Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, offers Himself to Your Majesty as holocaust and victim for the human race, even so do I offer myself body and soul to You; do with me what You will; to this end I accept all the troubles, mortifications, afflictions, which it shall please You to send me this day. I accept all from Your divine will; O my God, may my will ever be conformed to Yours!

During the day let us think of our morning Mass. We were then united to the immolation of Jesus and placed upon the altar with the Divine Victim; let us therefore accept generously the sufferings, the vexations, the burden of the day and the heat thereof, the difficulties and self-denial inherent to life. Thus we shall practically live our Mass. Indeed, is not our heart an altar whence the incense of our sacrifice and our submission to His adorable will unceasingly rises up to God? What altar could be more pleasing to Him than a heart full of love constantly offered up to Him? For we can always sacrifice upon this altar, and offer ourselves with the Son of His love, for His glory and the welfare of souls.

This is the teaching that our Lord Himself gave to St. Mechtilde. One day whilst she was thinking that her illness made her useless and that her sufferings were unavailing, the Lord said to her: “Place all thy pains in My Heart and I will give them the most absolute perfection that suffering can possess. As My divinity drew to itself the sufferings of My humanity and made them its own, so will I transport thy pains into My divinity, I will unite them to My Passion and make thee share in that glory which God the Father has bestowed on My “sacred humanity in return for all its sufferings. Confide, therefore, each of thy pains to Love in saying: ‘O Love, I give them to Thee with the same intention that Thou hadst when Thou didst bring them to me from the Heart of God, and I beseech Thee to offer them to Him again, made perfect by intensest gratitude. . . .’ “My Passion,” added Christ Jesus, “bore infinite fruit in heaven and upon earth; thus thy pains, thy tribulations offered to Me and united to My Passion will be so fruitful that they will procure more glory for the elect, new merit for the just, forgiveness for sinners, and an alleviation of their pains for the souls in purgatory. What is there indeed that My Heart cannot change for the better, since it is from the goodness of My Heart that all good flows both in heaven and on earth?”

Blessed Columba Marmion


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

an immense and inestimable grace

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Once again Blessed Marmion speaks of the most profound mystery in which you and all Christians have been given a share - to offer yourselves to the Heavenly Father as Christ did and in union with Him so that in having shared in his sacrifice you may share in His eternal glory.  Seek in every way to take Christ as your Model and with the eyes of faith recognize and embrace the inestimable grace you have been given!

Our Lord has willed that the immolation of the altar shall renew the immolation of the Cross, by reproducing it in order to apply its fruit to every soul. It is the same Christ Who offers Himself to His Father “in the odour of sweetness”: cum odore suavitatis; this unbloody oblation is as acceptable to God as the sacrifice of Calvary: here Jesus is the Victim, as He was when upon the Cross, and as He was when He came upon earth. Upon the altar, Christ Jesus comes again into this world every day as Victim; every day He repeats his oblation and His immolation for us. Doubtless He wishes us to offer Him to the Father; but neither does He ever weary of urging us to offer ourselves to His Father, in union with Him, that we too may thus be accepted, and, having shared in His sacrifice here below, may likewise share in His eternal glory.

In this, as in all things, Christ Jesus is our Model, the Model of all those who follow Him, of all those who are His members.

Our condition as creatures already obliges us to offer ourselves to God, for His dominion over us is sovereign: “The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof: the world and all they that dwell therein”: Domini est terra et plenitudo ejus, orbis terrarum et universi qui habitant in eo. We ought to confess, by our adoration and the sacrifice of our submission to God’s will, His supreme perfection and our absolute dependence.

But our condition as members of Jesus Christ also obliges us to imitate our Divine Head. St. Paul addresses these words to Christians: “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercy of God”—that is to say, because of God’s infinite bounty towards you—“that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God, your reasonable service”: Obsecro vos, fratres, per misericordiam Dei, ut exhibeatis corpora vestra hostiam viventem, sanctam, Deo placentem, rationabile obsequium vestrum.

O God, Infinite Being, Who art very Beatitude, what an immense and inestimable grace Thou dost give to Thy poor creatures in calling them to be, with the Son of Thy love, acceptable sacrifices, wholly consecrated to the glory of Thy Majesty!”

Blessed Columba Marmion

make us an eternal sacrifice to Thyself

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

The Sacrifice of the Altar must be the center of your lives and the place where you unite yourselves to the Lord as an immolation of love; uniting yourselves in this character as victim.  The way you do this is by yielding yourselves to "the entire accomplishment of the divine good pleasure."  Offer yourselves with the same dispositions that animated the Sacred Heart upon the Cross - intense love of others, the desire for the salvation of souls and full abandonment to all that is willed from on high.  You must be victims in the Victim, lambs in the Lamb of Sacrifice.

We must be united to Christ in His immolation and offer ourselves with Him; then lie takes us with Him, He immolates us with Him, He bears us before His Father, in odorem suavitatis. It is ourselves we must offer with Jesus Christ. If the faithful share, through baptism, in the priesthood of Christ, it is, says St. Peter, that they may “offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ”: Sacerdotium sanctum, offerre spirituales hostias acceptabiles Deo per Jesum Christum. This is so true that in more than one prayer following the offering about to be made to God, the Church, while awaiting the moment of the consecration, lays stress on this union of our sacrifice with that of her Bridegroom. “Vouchsafe, O Lord,” she says, “to sanctify these gifts, and receiving the oblation of this spiritual victim, make us an eternal sacrifice to Thyself”: Propitius, Domine, quaesumus, haec dona sanctifica, et hostiae spiritualis oblatione suscepta, NOSMETIPSOS tibi perfice munus aeternum.

But in order for us to be thus accepted by God, the offering of ourselves must be united to the offering Christ made of Himself upon the Cross and renews upon the altar. Our Lord substituted “Himself for us in His immolation, He took the place of us all, and that is why when He died we, in principle, died with Him: Si unus pro omnibus mortuus est, ergo omnes mortui sunt. For this mystical death to take place effectually in each one of us, we must unite ourselves to His sacrifice on the altar. And how are we to unite ourselves to Christ Jesus in this character of victim? By yielding ourselves, like Him, to the entire accomplishment of the divine good pleasure.

It is for God to fully dispose of the victim offered to Him; we must be in this essential attitude of giving all to God, of making our acts of self-renunciation and mortification, of accepting the sufferings and trials of each day for love of Him, so that we may be able to say, like Jesus Christ at the moment of His Passion: Ut cognoscat mundus quia diligo Patrem, sic facio. That is to offer ourselves with Jesus. Let us offer the Divine Son to His Eternal Father and offer ourselves with this “holy Host” in the same dispositions that animated the Sacred Heart of Christ upon the Cross: intense
 love of His Father and of our brethren, ardent desire for the salvation of souls, and full abandonment to all that is willed from on high, above all, if it contains what is painful and vexatious for our nature. When we do this, we offer God the most acceptable homage He can receive from us.

“It is then only,” as St. Gregory so well says, “that Christ is our Victim, when we offer ourselves, in order to share, by our generosity and sacrifice, in His life of immolation”: Tunc ergo vere pro nobis hostia erit Deo, cum nos ipsos hostiam fecerimus.

Blessed Columba Marmion

Sunday, April 19, 2015

It would be like blasphemy . . .


Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Never think for a moment that God is indifferent to your sufferings.  On the contrary, His gaze penetrates the depths of your souls and knows your sorrows intimately.  Furthermore, the moment that you bear that suffering for Him - every single moment - it becomes a part of a new heaven for all eternity.

When weak and miserable fall at the feet of Jesus and allow Him to offer all to the Father and to adore Him for you.  Let your concern alone be the embrace of His will.  Bear everything as Christ did on the Cross.  Never refuse but pray without ceasing of the grace you need.

It would be like blasphemy to believe that God is indifferent to our needs and sufferings. God always looks upon us with an infinite look, one that is infinitely intense, penetrating to the very depths of our soul and knowing all its griefs and its needs.

Let us tell ourselves that every day, every hour, every instant of suffering borne with Jesus and for love of Him will be a new heaven for all eternity, and a new glory given God for ever.
Let us never forget it: God alone is necessary. All else could be wanting; but He will never be wanting, and He alone is sufficient for us.

In all circumstances we should have recourse to Jesus by prayer; He is our peace, our strength, our joy—and He belongs entirely to us.

During my prayer, I love to cast myself at the feet of Jesus Christ and to say to Him: I am very miserable, I am nothing, but You can do all: You are my wisdom, my sanctity. You behold Your Father, You adore Him, You say to Him ineffable things. O my Jesus! that which You say to Him I would say to Him also; say it to Him in my place. You behold in Your Father all that He wills of me, all that He wills for me; You see in Him if I shall have sickness or health, consolation or suffering; You see when and how I am to die. You accept all for me. As for me, I will it with You, because You will it.

For love, work, suffer, bear up despite monotony, just as Jesus on the Cross.

If He asks for anything, never refuse, but if it seems too hard to nature, pray, pray till He gives you the grace.

May God bless and love you, and make you a holocaust of love united with your Crucified Spouse.

Blessed Columba Marmion. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

seek refuge in none beside Me in tribulation


Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

In sorrow and tribulation seek refuge first in the Lord and entrust your griefs and anxieties to the One alone who knows what you need and can truly console your soul.  How many times do we immediately vent our frustrations to others, rather than going immediately to the feet of the Beloved? Learn from the Psalmist and cry out for God's mercy in your affliction.  Offering Him your sorrows He will receive and accept them as a sacrifice of expiation for your sins and give healing, constancy and joy. 

It is recounted of St. Mechtilde that, in her sorrows, she had the custom of taking refuge with our Lord and of abandoning herself to Him in all submission. Christ Jesus Himself had taught her to do this: “If a person wishes to make Me an acceptable offering, let him seek refuge in none beside Me in tribulation, and not complain of his griefs to anyone, but entrust to Me all the anxieties with which his heart is burdened. I will never forsake one who acts thus.” We ought to accustom ourselves to tell everything to our Lord, to entrust to Him all that concerns us. “Commit thy way to the Lord,” that is, reveal to Him thy thoughts, thy cares, thy anguish, and He Himself will guide thee: Revela Domino viam tuam, et spera in eo, et ipse faciet. How do most men act? They talk over their troubles either within themselves, or to others; few go to pour out their souls at the feet of Christ Jesus. And yet that is a prayer so pleasing to God, and so fruitful a practice for the soul! Look at the Psalmist, the singer inspired by the Holy Ghost. He discloses to God all that happens to him; he shows Him all the difficulties that beset him, the afflictions that come to him through men, the anguish that fills his soul. “Look upon my weariness, my miseries, my sufferings! Why, O Lord, are they multiplied that afflict me? Domine quid multiplicati sunt qui tribulant me . . . ? Look upon me, and have mercy on me, for I am alone and poor. The troubles of my heart are multiplied: deliver me from my necessities . . . ! Bow down Thy ear to me: make haste to deliver me. Be Thou unto me . . . a house of refuge to save me. . . . I am afflicted and humbled exceedingly . . . my groaning is not hidden from Thee . . . . Withhold not Thou, O Lord, Thy tender mercies from me . . . for evils without number have surrounded me. . . . I am a beggar and poor, but the Lord is careful for me. . . .

When the soul is in trouble, in distress, when beset by temptation, when sadness overpowers it, when discouragement takes possession of it, it has but to open the inspired Book: “O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me. Why, O Lord, are they multiplied that afflict me? Many are they who rise up against me. Many say to my soul: There is no salvation for him in his God. But Thou, O Lord, art my protector, my glory, and the lifter up of my head. . . . Arise, O Lord, save me. Why art thou sad, O my soul? and why dost thou disquiet me? Hope in God, for I will still give praise to Him: the salvation of my countenance, and my God. And let all them be glad that hope in Thee. . . . O Lord, Thou hast crowned us, as with a shield of Thy good will”: Et laetentur omnes qui sperant in te. . . . Scuto bonae voluntatis tuae coronasti nos. “In the Lord I put my trust, how then do you say to my soul: Get thee away from hence to the mountain? Hear, O Lord, the voice of my supplication, when I pray to Thee; when I lift up my hands to Thy holy temple. . . . Save, O Lord, Thy people, and bless Thy inheritance: and rule them and exalt them forever.”

Does the soul need light? strength? courage? Words wherewith to invoke God flow endlessly to our lips: “My soul is as earth without water unto Thee. Send forth Thy light and Thy truth, they have conducted me, and brought me unto Thy holy hill, and into Thy tabernacles. And I will go to the altar of God: to God Who giveth joy to my youth. To Thee, O God my God, I will give praise upon the harp”: Confitebor tibi in cithara Deus, Deus meus.

Whether our troubles come from men, from the devil, or arise from our fallen nature or from circumstances, we ought to confide everything to God.

There is no light and strength that we cannot find in Christ Jesus: He is the surest Friend; He is, as He Himself said again to St. Mechtilde, “essential fidelity.” Let us then say to Him: “Lord Jesus, behold I come to Thee, with such or such a sorrow, difficulty, suffering, or affliction; I unite it to those which Thou didst endure here below, when Thou wast in Gethsemane; I abandon myself to Thee, assured that Thou wilt accept this sacrifice in expiation of my sins: Vide humilitatem meam et laborem meum, et dimitte universa delicta mea. In return Thou wilt give me strength, constancy, and joy.” This confidence will not be deceived; a virtue goes out from Christ Jesus which heals all the wounds of those who unite themselves to Him in this way: Virtus de illo exibat et sanabat omnes. Indeed, says St. Teresa, “this Divine Master will behold you with those eyes, so beauteous and compassionate, big with tears; He will forget His own sorrows to comfort yours, and that only because you went to seek consolation from Him and turned to look upon Him.


Blessed Columba Marmion. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so also by Christ does our comfort abound


Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

How is it that you, not only as women of faith, but as those dedicated to live your lives in a spirit of reparation, understand prayer?  With what spirit do you bring yourself to Christ?  Blessed Marmion reminds us that "the disciple is not above his master".  We come to Him suffering and weary but we are not delivered from the cross.  Yet, it is in coming to the Beloved that we are comforted.  It is this very turning to Him in prayer that becomes the balm that soothes our pain.  We must receive His words as infallible: "Come to Me, all you that labor, and our burdened and I will refresh you."  "It is from Him all true consolation is born for our souls."

When we suffer, when we are in pain, in sadness, in weariness, in adversity or difficulties, and we come to Jesus we are not delivered from our cross, for “the disciple is not above his master,” but we are comforted. Christ Himself has told us that He wills us to take up our cross; it is the indispensable condition for becoming His true disciple—but He promises too that He will refresh those who come to find in Him a balm for their sufferings. And He Himself invites us: “Come to Me, all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you.” His words are infallible. If you go to Him with confidence, be assured He will turn tenderly towards you because, according to the words the Gospel applied to Him, He will be touched with compassion: Misericordia motus. Was He not crushed under suffering to the point of crying out: “Father, let this chalice of bitterness pass from Me”? St. Paul expressly tells us that one of the reasons Christ wished to endure sorrow was that He might succour those who would come to Him. He is the Good Samaritan Who bends over suffering humanity and brings to it, with salvation, the consolation of the Spirit of Love. It is from Him all true consolation is born for our souls. St. Paul repeats to us: “As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so also by Christ doth our comfort abound.” You see how he identifies his tribulations with those of Jesus, since he is a member of Christ’s mystical body, and how also it is from Christ he receives consolation.

Blessed Columba Marmion

The gaze of the suffering Christ

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

The path of reparation begins with the contemplation of the sufferings of Christ; a contemplation, Blessed Marmion tells us, that is "like a sacramental causing the soul to share in that divine sadness which invaded the soul of Jesus in the Garden of Olives . . . "  In this contemplation the gaze of Christ also penetrates the depths of our hearts and touches them with repentance.  We are touched by the sorrow of the Lord and by the realization of our participation in what brought him such suffering.  Only when we have allowed this gaze to take root in our hearts will we experience a quickening within us of a "hope in the infinite value of the sufferings by which Christ satisfied for us, and this brings us ineffable peace."

If you contemplate with faith and devotion the sufferings of Jesus Christ you will have a revelation of God’s love and justice; you will know, better than with any amount of reasoning, the malice of sin. This contemplation is like a sacramental causing the soul to share in that divine sadness which invaded the soul of Jesus in the Garden of Olives, to share in His sentiments of religion and zeal and abandonment to the will of His Father.

On the night of the Passion, Peter, the Prince of the Apostles to whom Christ had revealed His glory upon Tabor, who had just received Holy Communion from Jesus’ own hands, Peter, at the voice of a servant-maid, denies His Master. Soon afterwards, the gaze of Jesus, abandoned to the caprices of His mortal enemies, meets that of Peter. The Apostle understands; he goes out, and bitter tears flow from his eyes: Flevit amare.

A like effect is produced in the soul that contemplates the sufferings of Jesus with faith: it, too, has followed Jesus, with Peter, on the night of the Passion; it, too, meets the gaze of the Divine Crucified, and that is for it a true grace. Let us often keep close in the footsteps of the suffering Christ, by making the Way of the Cross. Jesus will say to us: “See what I have suffered for thee; I have endured a three hours’ agony, endured the desertion of My disciples, and having My face spat upon, the false witnesses, the cowardice of Pilate, the derision of Herod, the weight of the Cross beneath which I fell, the nakedness of the gibbet, the bitter sarcasms of My most deadly enemies, the thirst which they would have quenched with gall and vinegar, and, above all, the being forsaken by My Father. It was for thee, out of love for thee, to expiate thy sins that I endured all; with My blood I have paid thy debts; I underwent the terrible exigencies of justice that mercy might be shown to thee!” Could we remain insensible to such a plea? The gaze of Jesus upon the Cross penetrates to the depths of our soul “and touches it with repentance, because we are made to understand that sin is the cause of all these sufferings. Our heart then deplores having really contributed to the divine Passion. When God thus touches a soul with His light, in prayer, He grants it one of the most precious graces that can be.

It is a repentance, moreover, full of love and confidence. For the soul does not sink down in despair beneath the weight of its sins: compunction is accompanied with consolation and comfort; the thought of the Redemption prevents shame and regret from degenerating into discouragement. Has not Jesus purchased our pardon superabundantly: Et copiosa apud eum redemptio? The sight of His sufferings, at the same time as it gives birth to contrition, quickens within us hope in the infinite value of the sufferings by which Christ satisfied for us, and this brings us ineffable peace: Ecce in pace amaritudo mea amarissima.

Blessed Columba Marmion

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The special graces of contemplating the suffering Christ

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Having just celebrated Holy Week, we can look back now with an especial clarity at the virtues of Christ made manifest in His Passion; His love for the Father and for mankind, hatred for sin, meekness, obedience, and compassion.  In Him we see the model and exemplar of our life and as we meditate we are meant to emulate these virtues so as to conform ourselves to our Divine Head.  

In drawing close to Christ in this way through lovingly following Him along the road to Golgatha, special graces are poured forth upon us as they were upon those who participated so intimately in His suffering and death.

“OUR LORD possesses every virtue within His soul, but the occasions of manifesting them especially arise in His Passion. His immense love for His Father, His charity for mankind, hatred of sin, forgiveness of injuries, patience, meekness, fortitude, obedience to lawful authority, compassion, all these virtues shine out in a heroic manner in these days of sorrow.

When we contemplate Jesus in His Passion, we see the Exemplar of our life, the Model—admirable and accessible at the same time—of those virtues of compunction, abnegation, patience, resignation, abandonment to God’s will, charity, meekness, which we ought to practice so as to become like unto our Divine Head: Si quis vult post me venire, abneget semetipsum et tollat crucem suam et sequatur me.

Moreover, when we contemplate the sufferings of Jesus, He grants us, according to the measure of our faith, grace to practise the virtues which He revealed during those holy hours. How is this?
When Christ dwelt upon earth, an all-powerful virtue went out from His Divine Person, healing bodily infirmities, enlightening the mind, and quickening the soul: Virtus de illo exibat, et sanabat omnes.

Something analogous comes to pass when we place ourselves in contact with Jesus by faith. To those who lovingly followed Him along the road to Golgotha or were present at His immolation, Christ surely granted special graces. This virtue which then went out from Him still does so; and when, in a spirit of faith, in order to compassionate His sufferings, and to imitate Him, we follow Him from the pretorium to Calvary and take our stand at the foot of the Cross, He gives us the same graces, He makes us partakers of the same favours.”

Blessed Columba Marmion

Monday, April 13, 2015

in order that everything may be divine

There is nothing more perfect or more agreeable to God than to abandon ourselves unreservedly to His good pleasure, even, and especially, when that good pleasure places the cross upon our shoulders. To realise His works God loves to choose what is weak and small, in order that everything may be divine. Let us ever keep our gaze fixed upon the face (i.e., the good pleasure) of the Father through the eyes of Jesus Christ: Quaerite faciem ejus semper.

Blessed Columba Marmion

What is better than to surrender ourselves with Him to the Father?

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

To abandon yourselves in all things to God, to accept that portion of the chalice you are called to drink, only becomes bearable when when you consciously surrender yourselves in union with Christ. Seek to keep yourselves in the inward disposition that says "Yes" to the Beloved, "never asking, murmuringly, when annoyed and contradicted: 'Why has this happened?' Constantly lift up your hearts to God such that you see only Him and then you will abide in peace.

It is above all on days of weariness, sickness, impatience, temptation, spiritual dryness, and trials, during hours of sometimes terrible anguish which press upon a soul, that holy abandonment is pleasing to God. More than once we have considered this truth, namely, that there is a sum total of sufferings, of humiliations and sorrows, which God has foreseen for the members of Christ’s mystical body in order to “ fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ.” We cannot reach perfect union with Christ Jesus unless we accept that portion of the chalice which our Lord wills to give us to drink with Him and after Him.

Our Lord knew all about the terrible way along which His Father had ordained that He should travel; did He refuse to accept the divine will or refuse to fulfill it? No, He embraced it. “Behold I come, O Father; I have placed this law of suffering in My Heart, and I accept it for love of Thee.” The Word of God, Eternal Wisdom, Christ likewise foresaw the part that we should have in His Passion. What is there better than to surrender ourselves, with Him, to our Father and accept this participation in the sufferings and humiliations of His Son Jesus? “O Father, I accept all the sorrows , all the humiliations, all the sufferings that it shall please Thee to send me, all the misunderstandings to which it shall please Thee to subject me, all the painful obediences that it shall please Thee to impose upon me; and all this for love of Thee, in union with Thy beloved Son.”

If we could always keep ourselves in these inward dispositions, never stopping at secondary causes, never asking , murmuringly, when annoyed and contradicted : “Why has this happened? Why do they treat me in this manner?” If we could lift ourselves up to that supreme will which permits everything, and without the permission of which nothing happens ; if we could always look up above creatures with hearts uplifted, sursum corda, to see only God, to abandon ourselves to Him, we should constantly abide in peace. 

A great nun, the Blessed Bonomo, wrote to her father, at a time when she was exposed to sharp persecution through an unenlightened confessor: “I say to the Lord, ‘All is for Thee, I will not be troubled: Fiat voluntas tua in aeternum .’ I let everything pass, as the water passes returning to the sea; if things come from God, I at once return them to God; and I live in my state of peace; if I am tempted, I commend myself to God and await His help and light; and thus all goes well. Let your Lordship then have no trouble on my account, even when you hear that I am sick and in anguish; for I know not what trouble is, because all is love, and I fear but one thing: to die without suffering.”

Blessed Columba Marmion

Sunday, April 12, 2015

You must throw yourself into His arms with your eyes shut


Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Let your heart belong to God alone and once given place not reservation, no condition upon your love.  Blessed Marmion reminds us that it is much easier to say "I give myself to You without reserve" than to do so in reality.  In fact, there are very few who love the Lord for Himself and as soon as He imposes something upon them or upsets their plans they want nothing more to do with Him.

This is a great fault, indeed a great evil, Marmion warns. "For when one allows oneself to say 'No' to our Lord, to bargain with Him, that perfect understanding, that mutual abandon which constitutes real union between the Bridegroom and the bride becomes impossible."

Daughters, this is essential: when you receive the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, tell Him that you accept like Him all that the Father wills.  Consider yourself God's and never take yourself back. Throw yourselves into His arms with your eyes shut to other things.

What gives simplicity and peace to our lives is the sincere and complete abandon of oneself to God for His glory. To abandon ourselves is to give to God all that we are and all that we have in order to be His thing of which He can dispose at will. Jesus says, “Father, all My things are Thine,” and the Father took Him at His word and delivered Him to unheard-of torments. Many people speak of abandon, but very few keep their word with God.

They give themselves to God to be His property, and as soon as ever God begins to dispose of this property for His glory and according to the designs of His wisdom, they cry out, they murmur , and let it be seen that their abandon was not serious, it was only a meaningless word. I see more and more that what Jesus Christ wants of you is that you abandon yourself without reserve to His will and His love. Place no reservation, no condition to doing this, for He only gives Himself entirely to those who give themselves to Him without counting the cost. But, my dear daughter, don’t be under any illusion, it is much easier to say to our Lord, “I give myself to You without reserve” than to do so in reality. There are very few, even among His spouses, who love Him for Himself. The greater number love themselves more than they love Jesus, for it suffices for Him to impose something upon them that upsets their customary plans or goes against their inclinations for them to want no more of Him.

Consider it as a great evil, a great fault to say to our Lord, “Lord, I know that You desire this from me; I know that it would be more pleasing to You for me to do this, but I do not consent to do it.” For when one allows oneself to say “No” to our Lord, to bargain with Him, that perfect understanding, that mutual abandon which constitutes real union between the Bridegroom and the bride becomes impossible.

Those whom God destines to intimate union with Himself ought to put no reserve to their abandon. You must throw yourself into His arms with your eyes shut. You must make an act of complete abandonment to God; give yourself to Him, once and for all, without reserve. This condition must be regarded as essential. I understand such or such a thing makes you suffer, but all that is accidental. What is essential is that you belong altogether to God. Consider yourself as God’s “thing” and never take yourself back. When you have communicated, tell our Lord that you accept, like Him, all the Father’s will; tell the Father that you wish to belong to Him like this Word that you possess. The more I gaze at God through the eyes of Jesus living in my heart, the more clearly I see that nothing can be so high, so divine as to remit oneself totally to God. Surely the Creator has a right to dispose of the creature whom He has drawn from nothing; surely He in His infinite wisdom knows what we are best suited to accomplish in His plan; surely His infinite love is the most secure resting place for our blindness and weakness.

Marmion, Blessed Columba 

True Virtue

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

You are called to live in that simple trust and abandonment to God in all things.  This is not the way of the world or perhaps even the way of many Christians.  To truly trust in Love, even when you are crushed by the weight of our weakness or misery, is true virtue.  More often than not, it is a secret martyrdom; placing yourselves into His hands expecting no happiness or satisfaction until you are with Him forever.  Though hidden, nothing honors God more than such an abandonment.

When our Lord wishes to unite a soul very closely to Him, He makes her pass through many trials. But if this soul remits herself without reserve into His hands, He arranges everything for her greatest good, according to St. Paul’s words, “All things work together for good to them that love God.” God’s glory demands that we hope in Him in difficult circumstances. To hope in God, to rest upon His bosom when things go well is not a lofty virtue and gives little glory to Him Who wishes to be served by faith and against all human hope. But always to remain convinced that God will never forsake us, in spite of the difficulties which seem to us to be insurmountable , that His wisdom, His love and His power will know how to find a way, that is true virtue.

When God discovers to us the abyss of our misery, it needs all the strength of the Holy Spirit , all our confidence in the love of our Heavenly Father, all our faith in the blood of Jesus Christ in order not to be crushed by the weight of our weakness, and yet what glorifies God is when, in the full knowledge of our misery, we persist in hoping in His love.

There will never be any peace for you except in the complete abandonment of yourself in the hands of your Heavenly Father. It is always necessary to come back to this point, for our Lord requires of you this testimony of your confidence and love. Each time then that you feel troubled and distrustful, you should try quietly by prayer and through union with Jesus, to bring your will to this absolute submission, to this complete abandonment of yourself, of your future and of everything, into God’s hands. Having left all for God, you ought to expect neither happiness nor satisfaction until you are with Him forever. The Good God gives you so many tokens of fatherly tenderness and solicitude, that you ought to respond by complete abandonment. Nothing honours God so much as this surrender of oneself into His Hands.


Marmion, Blessed Columba 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

How rich we are in Him

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Remember you never suffer alone but in solidarity with the Lord who has assumed all your trials, sorrows and weariness.  If you unite your sufferings with His, then you come to share in His merits and will be inundated with graces for yourselves and others.  

We are members of Jesus Christ and so united to Him, having such solidarity with Him, that all our sorrows, all our weariness, our heaviness, our trials of body and soul are assumed by Him and unceasingly cry for mercy to the Father. It is His Son, His beloved Son, Whom He sees in us, and His mercy unceasingly inundates us with graces for ourselves and for others. Say from the bottom of your heart: Nos credidimus caritati Dei. I believe in the love of Jesus for me, a love so great that His sufferings and His merits become mine. Oh! how rich we are in Him.

Marmion, Blessed Columba 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

As a child has rest in its mother's arms even so my soul

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

The more perfect your love becomes the more you should yield to the hidden will of God; that is,  embrace whatever state or circumstances in which you find yourselves.  Place into His hands all of your views and options and to trust in no wisdom but His.  Many of His designs will be hidden from you, both in regards to your natural existence and your supernatural perfection - whether you will live a long time or die soon, know good health or sickness, whether your efforts will meet with success or abject failure.

You must meet this reality by losing yourself in adoration, abandoning yourself to His arms like a child in the arms of its mother.  You must no more fear His will or doubt His care than that of the child.

Most of all you must believe that God wills your perfection and holiness.  All that comes from His Will is salutary.  Whether consolation or desolation, it comes from the Heart of the Beloved.  With the psalmist cry out: 


O Lord, my heart is not proud 
nor haughty my eyes.
I have not gone after things too great 
nor marvels beyond me. 
Truly I have set my soul  
in silence and peace. 
As a child has rest in its mother's arms 
even so my soul.

The loving soul does not only adhere to the will of God manifested; it yields itself also, and especially, to the hidden will of God; this enwraps our natural existence and our supernatural life, in the whole as in detail. The state of health or sickness, the events in which we are involved, the success or failure of our undertakings, the hour and circumstances of our death, the degree of our holiness, the particular means which God wills to employ to lead us to this degree, these are so many things whereof we are ignorant, that God wills to keep hidden from us.

In face of God’s designs, our attitude will be one of abandonment; to give ourselves to God, to place within His hands our personality, our own views, in order to accept His, in all humility: such will be the order we follow. In this matter, true wisdom is not to have any wisdom of our own but to trust entirely in the infallible word, the eternal wisdom and ineffable tenderness of a God Who loves us.

At present God hides from me certain of His designs over me; I ought to find it well that He hides them from me, without troubling myself as to wherefore. I do not know if I shall live a long time, or if I shall die soon; if I shall remain in good health, or if sickness will weigh me down; if I shall keep my faculties, or if I shall lose them long before my death; I do not know whether God will lead me by one particular path or by another. In this domain God keeps the sovereign right of disposing everything both as concerns my natural existence and my supernatural perfection; for He is the Alpha and Omega of all things.

And what am I to do? To lose myself in adoration. To adore God as Principle, as Wisdom, as Justice, as Infinite Goodness; to throw myself into His arms, like a child in the arms of its mother, letting itself be swayed with her every movement. Are you afraid of throwing yourself into your mother’s arms? Certainly not, for what mother, unless a monster , has ever betrayed the confidence of her child? And where has a mother derived her tenderness, her goodness, her love? From God. Or rather, these virtues of a mother are but the pale reflection of the perfections of goodness, love, and tenderness, that are in God. Has He not compared Himself to a mother? “Can a mother forget her infant . . . and if she should forget, yet will I not forget thee.” Therefore whether this divine will leads me by wide paths strewn with roses, or draws me along rugged ways bristling with thorns, it is still the adorable and loving will of God, of my God.

But I know that this will wills my holiness, that, guided by love, it works ever and mightily to this end; beyond the means that God has officially established to lead me to perfection, such as the sacraments, prayer, the practice of virtue, He possesses a thousand particular means for realising in me, little by little, the special form of holiness that He wills to see in my soul. The whole thing for me, in this hidden domain, is to surrender myself entirely to His action, with faith , confidence, and love. All is salutary for me that comes from God: joys and sorrows, light and darkness, consolations and aridities, for “all things work together unto good” for those whom God calls to holiness. This is what our Lord said to His faithful servant, St. Gertrude: “Make an act of abandonment to My good pleasure, leaving Me the full disposal of all that concerns thee, in the spirit of obedience which dictated to Me this prayer: ‘Father, not My will, but Thine be done.’ Be resolved to receive adversity or prosperity from My hand, for My love it is that sends them to thee for thy salvation. In all things, unite thy thoughts and desires to those of My Heart. My love it is that gives thee days of dilatation and of joy, out of indulgence to thy weakness, and in order to raise thine eyes and hopes towards heaven; welcome these joys with gratitude and unite this gratitude to My love. Again it is My love that sends thee days of weariness and sadness that they may gain for thee everlasting treasures; accept them, uniting thy resignation to My love.”

Marmion, Blessed Columba

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Consecrate yourself to the Will of God


Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Above all set your hearts on pleasing God and doing His will at every moment.  This is a sure path to intimacy because the will of God is not distinct from Himself.  To love and adore Him is to have a burning desire not to displease Him in any way; to do His will always.  Let your eyes ever be upon Him - gaze upon His Eucharistic face that there you will learn His will and find the strength to do it.

Abandonment is first of all the consecration of one’s self, in faith and love, to God’s will. The will of God is not distinct from Himself; it is God intimating to us His wishes; it is as holy, as powerful, as adorable, as immutable as God Himself.

What ought to be the attitude of the loving soul with regard to this will? The soul ought to feel itself fire and flame to fulfil it. Every energy of our being should be employed, with fidelity and constancy, to carry out this will. The more intimate we are with anyone, the more careful we are not to displease him; in regard to God, our fidelity ought to be absolute: “I do always the things that please Him”: Quae placita sunt ei facio SEMPER. Such ought to be the passion of a soul that seeks God solely; his eyes, as the Psalmist says, should be “ever towards the Lord”: Oculi mei SEMPER ad Dominum, thereby to learn His will and to do it. Love serves as the measure of this self-surrender, and the deeper love is, and the more intense and active, the more complete and absolute it renders self-surrender.

Marmion, Blessed Columba 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Let love be enough

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Strive with all your heart to let Love be enough for you.  Let it be put beside all things and be the one sole judge of their meaning and value.  If you let the memory and vision of Him color your vision of all things, then you will be able to endure every annoyance and difficulty, all rejection and lack of kindness, with utmost patience.

Do all things solely for love of our Lord and, for love of Him, accept all that He permits ; give yourself up to love without looking either to the right or the left. Accept , without troubling yourself about them, the annoyances and difficulties through which you are passing at present; what you have to do by obedience, do as well as ever you can, but without being anxious whether others are pleased with you or blame you, whether they love you or don’t love you. It ought to be enough for you to be loved by our Lord. Have but one thing in view, namely, to love our Lord and to please Him in everything. God will draw near to you, He will abide in you, you will live in the fellowship of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. And say often to God, “My God, You indeed merit that I love You solely and that I seek but You.”

Marmion, Blessed Columba

Thursday, April 2, 2015

What costs nothing is worth nothing


Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

As you walk with the Lord in His Passion, remember who it was that remained with Him at the Cross.  What is so striking about the painting above is that Christ is not elevated high above the crowd, but at eye level and within reach.  Those who love him most deeply are constrained in that love to draw close to the wounds He bore and to gaze into the eyes of suffering Love - of Love rejected - of Love betrayed.

It is only in drawing close, not only in our gaze but in our experience of suffering, that the Father helps us overcome ourselves and to receive willingly and drink from the chalice of our Beloved.  Drink from this cup at every moment and in every one of your actions.  If your love is pure and true, you will drink it to the dregs.

Loving souls follow Jesus everywhere, as well and even more willingly to Golgotha as to the Mount of the Transfiguration. Who remained at the foot of the Cross with Jesus? His Virgin-Mother, who loved Him with a love into which not the least self-seeking entered; Magdalen, whom Jesus had forgiven much because she loved much; St. John, who possessed the secrets of the Divine Heart. These three stayed there near to Jesus.

God often makes use of suffering in the spiritual life to develop our love, because , in such moments, the soul has to overcome itself, and that is a mark of the strength of its charity.  Look at our Lord; He made no act of love more intense than when in His agony He accepted the bitter chalice offered to Him, and when, abandoned by His Father, He achieved His sacrifice upon the Cross.

I want you to apply yourself with order and attention to act solely out of love for God in all that you do. Each action done out of pure love is an act of pure love of God, and the more this act costs you, the greater and more meritorious is the love. Thus it was upon the Cross that our Lord showed most love. What costs nothing is worth nothing.

Marmion, Blessed Columba