THE PRACTICE OF THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST
“Charity is not puffed up.”
XVII.-HE THAT LOVES JESUS CHRIST IS NOT VAIN OF HIS OWN WORTH, BUT HUMBLES HIMSELF, AND IS GLAD TO BE HUMBLED
A proud person is like a balloon filled with air, which seems, indeed, great; but whose greatness in reality, is nothing more than a little air; which, as soon as the balloon is opened is quickly dispersed. He who loves God is humble, and is not elated at seeing any worth in himself; because he knows that whatever he possesses is the gift of God, and that of himself he has only nothingness and sin; so that his knowledge of the Divine favours bestowed on him, humbles him more, for he is conscious of being so unworthy, and yet so favoured by God.
St. Teresa says, in speaking of the especial favours she received from God: “God does with me as they do with a house, which, when about to fall, they prop up with supports.” When a soul receives a loving visit from God, and feels within herself an unwonted fervour of Divine love, accompanied with tears, or with a great tenderness of heart, let her beware of supposing that God so favours her in reward for some good action; but let her then humble herself the more, concluding that God caresses her in order that she may not forsake Him; otherwise, were she to make such favours the subject of vain complacency, imagining herself more privileged because she receives greater gifts from God than others, such a fault would induce God to deprive her of His favours. Two things are chiefly requisite for the stability of a house, the foundation and the roof: the foundation in us must be humility, in acknowledging ourselves good for nothing, and capable of nothing; and the roof is the Divine assistance, in which alone we ought to put all our trust.
Whenever we behold ourselves unusually favoured by God, we must humble ourselves the more. When St. Teresa received any special favour, she used to strive to place before her eyes all the faults she had ever committed; and thus the Lord received her into closer union with Himself: the more a soul confesses herself undeserving of any favours, the more God enriches her with His graces. Thais, who was first a sinner and then a Saint, humbled herself so profoundly ltefore God, that she dared not mention His Name; so that she did not dare to say, “My God,” but “My Creator, have mercy on me! Plasmator meus, miserere mei.” And St. Jerome writes that, in recompense for such humility, she saw a glorious throne prepared fer her in Heaven. In the Life of St. Margaret of Cortona we read how, when our Lord visited her one day with greater tokens of tenderness and love, she exclaimed: “But, O Lord, have You, then, forgotten what I have been? Is it possible that You can repay all my outrages against You with such exquisite sweetness?” And God replied that when a soul loves Him and cordially repents of having offended Him, He forgets all her past infidelities; as, indeed, He formerly spoke by the mouth of Ezechiel: But if the wicked do penance . .. I will not remember all his iniquities-(Ezech. xviii. 21-22). And in proof of this, He showed her a high throne which He had prepared for her in Heaven in the midst of the Seraphim. Oh, that we could only well comprehend the value of humility! A single act of humility is worth more than all the riches of the universe.