MEANS OF ACQUIRING DIVINE LOVE
Be particularly careful to unite yourself to God in the time of sickness. Infirmities prove the true lover. In sickness you must be obedient. Ask for nothing, and take the remedies prescribed, however nauseous and painful. Do not complain of anything; be meek and thankful to all. Resign yourself entirely to the will of God, and offer yourself to suffer whatsoever He sends, uniting yourself to Jesus on the Cross, desiring not to descend from it so long as it is not His will, content even to leave your life upon it, if such be His will. Fix your eyes on the Crucifix, and when you see that your sufferings are far less than those that Jesus suffered for your sake, you will bear the pains of sickness with greater peace. Love Jesus, says St. Francis de Sales, “in consolations and tribulations: He is as lovely when He afflicts as when He consoles you, because He does all for your welfare.” If you love Jesus Christ, love contempt, love correction; and entreat your confessor to correct you in the way that he deems most profitable to you, and not exempt you from any remedy necessary for your recovery.
He that loves always remembers his beloved. Thus the soul that loves God always thinks of Him, and always endeavours to show Him its affection by ardent sighs and ejaculations of love. This is called the love of aspiration. Endeavour frequently, by day and night, in solitude and in company, to say frequently to the crucified Spouse of your soul: My God I wish for nothing but Thee. My God, I give myself entirely to Thee. I wish whatsoever Thou wishest. Dispose of me as Thou pleasest. It will be enough to say to Him: My God, I love Thee! or, My God, my All! A loving sigh, an elevation of the heart, a look towards Heaven, an affectionate glance at the Crucifix, or at the Most Holy Sacrament, will be sufficient, even without words. Such acts are, perhaps, the most useful, because they can be made more easily and more frequently, and sometimes they are the most fervent.
In the Old Law, the Lord commanded that fire should burn unceasingly on His altar. And the fire on the altar shall always burn. (Lev. vi. 12). St. Gregory says that these altars are our hearts, on which God commands that the fire of His Divine love should always burn. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart. These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thy heart … and thou shalt meditate upon them sitting in thy house, and walking on thy journey, sleeping and rising … And thou shalt bind them as a sign on thy hand, and they shall be, and shall move before thy eyes. And thou shalt write them in the entry, and on the doors of thy house. (Deut. vi. 5). Mark the earnestness with which the Lord inculcates the precept of loving Him. I wish, He says, that this command be always within your heart, that you meditate upon it continually, sitting in your house, on your journey, sleeping and waking. I wish that you keep it printed on your hands, and present to your eyes: I wish that you write it on the entrance, and on all the doors of your house, in order to remember it always, and fulfill it by acts of love. Hence Theologians justly teach, that though it is probable that we are not bound to make Acts of Faith and Hope more than once a year, still we are obliged to make an Act of Charity at least once a month; some say we are bound to make it more frequently.
Father Balthasar Alvarez used to call the monasteries of Religious, hospitals of persons wounded with Divine love; furnaces of love, in which the hardest rocks are reduced to ashes. Such they ought to be: all men should burn continually with the love of Jesus Christ. But, alas! few, very few, have this ardent love. I say, that if Jesus Christ could weep at present, and were capable of sadness, His greatest sorrow would arise from seeing Himself so little loved by those who are His very own. Do you, then, love Him; love Him at least through compassion at the sight of your God Who is so little loved. Tell me, were a mighty prince of noble birth, of immense wealth, of extraordinary beauty and holiness, to take for his spouse a poor, ignorant, deformed, ill-dressed peasant, and were he, by making her his spouse, to render her rich, noble, wise, and happy, what would she not do for such a spouse? How great the affection and respect that she would feel for him, at the thought of his greatness and her own vileness! She would do nothing else than thank him continually for his goodness towards her. With what care would she labour to gratify his wishes, and to please him in all things! How careful would she be to execute, without reply, all his behests! And should it be necessary to suffer any pain for his sake, with what promptness and joy would she submit to it; how happy would she esteem herself in giving him such a proof of her affection and gratitude! And should she see him despised by his subjects, would she not weep continually? Were she, even through her own negligence, to offend him, how great would be her sorrow, and with what humility would she cast herself in tears at his feet, and ask pardon! Should she be at a distance from her spouse, oh! would she not count the hours and moments of her absence from him? How great the happiness that she would feel in thinking of her former and present state. Apply all this to yourself. Jesus Christ has made you, a miserable sinner, His own spouse.