THE PRACTICE OF THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST
“Charity dealeth not perversely.”
I.-HE THAT LOVES JESUS CHRIST AVOIDS LUKEWARMNESS, AND SEEKS PERFECTION”.
St. Gregory, in his explanation of these words, “dealeth not perversely,” says that Charity, giving herself up more and more to the love of God, ignores whatever is not right and holy. The Apostle had already written to the same effect, when he called Charity a bond that unites the most perfect virtues together in the soul. Have charity, which is the bond of perfection-(Col. iii. 14). And whereas Charity delights in, perfection, she consequently abhors that lukewarmness with which some persons serve God, to the great risk of losing charity, divine grace, their very souls and their all.
At the same time it must be observed that there are two kinds of tepidity or lukewarmness; the one unavoid able, the other avoidable. From that which is unavoidable, the Saints themselves are not exempt; and this comprises all the failings which are committed by us without full consent, but merely from our natural frailty. Such are, for example, distractions at prayers, interior disquietudes, useless words, vain curiosity, the wish to appear, tastes in eating and drinking, the movements of concupiscence not instantly repressed, and such like. We ought to avoid these defects as much as we possibly can; but, owing to the weakness of our nature, caused by the infection of sin, it is impossible to avoid them altogether. We ought, indeed, to detest them after committing them, because they are displeasing to God; but as we have already remarked, we ought to beware of making them a subject of alarm or disquietude. St. Francis of Sales wrote as follows: “All such thoughts as create disquietude are not from God, Who is the Prince of Peace; but they proceed always from the devil, or from self-love, or from the good opinion we have of ourselves.”
Such thoughts, therefore, as disturb us, must be straightway rejected, and made no account of. It was said also by the same Saint Francis regarding indeliberate faults, that, as they were involuntarily committed, so are they cancelled involuntarily. An act of sorrow, an act of love, is sufficient to cancel them. The venerable Sister Mary Crucified, a Benedictine nun, saw once a globe of fire, on which a number of straws were cast, and were all forthwith reduced to ashes. She was given to understand by this figure, that one act of Divine love, made with fervour, destroys all the defects we may have in our soul. The same effect is produced by the Holy Communion, according to what we find in the Council of Trent, where the Eucharist is called “an antidote by which we are freed from daily faults.” Thus the like faults, though they are indeed faults, do not hinder perfection; that is, attains our advancing to perfection; because no one of the perfection before he arrives at the kingdom Blessed.