THE PRACTICE OF THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST
“Charity beareth all things”
HE THAT LOVES JESUS CHRIST BEARS ALL THINGS FOR HIM, AND ESPECIALLY ILLNESS, POVERTY, AND CONTEMPT
This love of poverty should be especially practised by Religious who have made the Vow of Poverty. “Many Religious,” says the great St. Bernard, “wish to be poor; but on the condition of wanting for nothing.” “Thus,” says St. Francis de Sales, “they wish for the honour of poverty, but not the inconveniences of poverty.” To such persons is applicable the saying of the blessed Solomea, a nun of St. Clare: “That Religious will be a laughing-stock to Angels and to men, who pretends to be poor, and yet murmurs when in want of anything.” Good Religious act differently, they love their poverty above all riches. The daughter of the Emperor Maximilian II, a discalced nun of St. Clare, called Sister Margaret of the Cross, appeared on one occasion before her brother, the Archduke Albert, in a patched habit. He evinced some astonishment at it, as if it were unbecoming her noble birth; but she made him this answer: “My brother, I am more content with this torn garment than all monarchs with their purple robes.” St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi said: “O happy Religious, who, detached from all by means of holy poverty, can say: ‘The Lord is the portion of my inheritance!’” My God, Thou art my portion and all my good! St. Teresa, having received a large alms from a certain merchant, sent him word that his name was written in the Book of Life; and that, in token of this, he should lose all his possessions; and the merchant actually failed, and remained in poverty till death. St. Aloysius Gonzaga said that there could be no surer sign of a person’s being numbered among the elect than to see him fearing God, and at the same time undergoing crosses and tribulations in this life.
The bereavement of relations and friends by death belongs also, in some measure, to holy poverty; and in this we must especially practise patience. Some people, at the loss of a parent or friend, can find no rest; they shut themselves up to weep in their chamber, and giving free vent to their sorrow, become insupportable to all around them by their want of patience. I would ask these persons for whose gratification, or for whose sake, do they thus lament and shed tears? Is it for God’s? Certainly not; for God’s will is that they should be resigned to His dispensations. For that of the soul departed? By no mean: if the soul be lost, she abhors both you and your tears; if she is saved, and already in Heaven she would have you thank God on her part; if still in Purgatory, she craves the help of your prayers, and wishes you to bow with resignation to the Divine will, and to become a saint, in order that she may one day enjoy your society in Paradise. Of what use, then, is all this weeping? On one occasion the Venerable Father Joseph Caracciolo, the Theatine, was surrounded by his relations, who were all bitterly lamenting the death of his brother, whereupon he said to them: “Come! come! let us keep these tears for a better purpose, to weep over the death of Jesus Christ, Who has been to us a Father, a Brother, a Spouse, and Who died for love of us.” On such occasions we must imitate Job, who, on hearing the news of the death of his sons, exclaimed, with full resignation to the Divine will: The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; God gave me my sons, and God hath taken them away. As it hath pleased the Lord, so is it done: blessed be the name of the Lord! It hath pleased God that such things should happen, and so it pleaseth me; wherefore may He be blessed by me for ever (Job i. 21).