Evening Meditations for Sunday after Ascension ~ St Alphonsus Liguori

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Evening Meditation

THE PRACTICE OF THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST

III.-HE THAT LOVES JESUS CHRIST AVOIDS LUKEWARMNESS AND SEEKS PERFECTION

I.

The evil of tepidity arises from the little love men have for Jesus Christ. They who are puffed-up with self-esteem; those who frequently take to heart occurrences that fall out contrary to their wishes; who practise great indulgence towards themselves on account of their health; who keep their heart open to external objects, and the mind always distracted, with an eagerness to listen to, and to know, so many things that have nothing to do with the service of God, but merely serve to gratify private curiosity; who are ready to resent every little inattention from others, and consequently are often troubled, and grow remiss in prayer and recollection who one moment are all devotion and joy, the next all impatience and melancholy, just as things happen according to or against their humour; all such persons do not love Jesus Christ, or love Him very little, and cast discredit on true devotion.

But suppose anyone should find himself sunk in this unhappy state of tepidity, what has he to do? Certainly, it is a hard thing for a soul grown lukewarm to resume her ancient fervour; but our Lord has said, that what man cannot do, God can very Well do. The things that are impossible with man, are possible with God-(Luke xviii. 27). Whoever prays and employs the means is sure to accomplish his desire.

Now, the first means is the desire of perfection. Pious desires are the wings which lift us up from earth; for, as St. Laurence Justinian says, desire “supplies strength, and lightens pain.” It gives strength to walk towards perfection, and lightens the fatigue of the journey. He who has a real desire of perfection fails not to advance continually towards it; and so advancing, he must finally arrive at it. On the contrary, he who has not the desire of perfection will always go backwards, and always find himself more imperfect than before. St. Augustine says, that “not to go forward in the way of God is to go backwards.” He that makes no effort to advance will find himself carried backwards by the current of his corrupt nature.

ll.

They, then, who say, “God does not wish us all to be saints,” make a great mistake. Yes; for St. Paul says, This is the will of God, your sanctfication-{1 Thess. iv. 3). God wishes us all to be saints, and each one according to his state of life: the Religious as a Religious; the secular as a secular; the Priest as a Priest; the married as married; the man of business as a man of business; the soldier as a soldier; and so of every other state of life. Most beautiful, indeed, are the instructions which my great patroness, St. Teresa, gives on this subject. She says, in one place, “Let us enlarge our thoughts; for hence we shall derive immense good.” Elsewhere: “We must beware of having poor desires; but rather put our confidence in God, in order that, by forcing ourselves continually onwards, We may by degrees arrive where, by the Divine grace,so many Saints have arrived.” And in confirmation of this she quoted her own experience, having known how courageous souls make considerable progress in a short period of time. “Because,” said she, “The Lord takes as much delight in our desires, as if they were put into execution.” In another place she says: “Almighty God does not confer extraordinary iavours, except where His love has been earnestly sought after.” Again, in another passage, she remarks: “God does not fail to repay every good desire even in this life, for He is the Friend of generous souls, provided only they do not trust in themselves.” This Saint herself was endowed with just such a spirit or generosity; so that she once even said to our Lord, that were she to behold others in Paradise enjoying Him more than herself, she would not care; but were she to behold anyone loving Him more than she should love Him, this she declared she knew not how she could endure.

We must, therefore have great courage: The Lord is good to the soul that seeketh him-(Lam. iii. 25). God is surpassingly good and liberal towards a soul that heartily seeks Him. Neither can past sins prove a hindrance to our becoming Saints, if only we have the sincere desire to become so. St. Teresa remarks: “The devil strives to make us think it pride to entertain lofty desires, and towish to imitate the Saints; but it is of great service to encourage ourselves with the desire of great things, because, although the soul has not all at once the necessary strength, yet she nevertheless makes a bold flight, and rapidly advances.” , The Apostle writes: To them that love God, all things work together unto good (Rom. viii. 28). And the Gloss adds “even sins”; even past sins can contribute to our sanctification, inasmuch as the recollection of them keeps us more humble, and more grateful, when, we witness the favours God lavishes upon us, after all our outrages against Him. I am not capable of anything, the sinner should say, nor do I deserve anything; I deserve nothing but hell; but I have to deal with a God of infinite bounty, Who has promised to listen to all that pray to Him. Now, as He has rescued me from a state of damnation, and wishes me to become holy, and now proffers me His help, I can certainly become a saint, not by my own strength, but by the grace of my God, Who strengthens me: I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me-(Phil. iv. 13). Once, thus, we have good desires, we must take courage, and trusting in God, endeavour to put them into execution; but if afterwards we encounter any obstacle in our spiritual enterprises, let us repose quietly on the will of God. God’s will must be preferred before every good desire of our own. St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi would sooner have remained without perfection than possess it without the will of God.

O Holy and Divine Spirit, I will no longer live to myself. I will spend all the days that remain to me of life in loving and pleasing Thee.

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