Evening Meditations for the Eighteenth Thursday After Pentecost~ St Alphonsus Liguori

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Evening Meditation



St. Gregory asks: “What does solitude of body profit, if solitude of heart be wanting?” We have considered how much solitude assists recollection of mind; but, as St. Gregory says, it profits us little or nothing to be in a desert if the heart be full of worldly thoughts and earthly affections. That a soul may be wholly given to God, two things are necessary: to detach ourselves from the love of created things, and to consecrate all our affections to God alone. This is implied in true solitude of the heart.

We must, then, detach our heart from every earthly affection. St. Francis de Sales said: “If I knew there was a single fibre in my heart which was not given for God, I would instantly pluck it out.” If we do not purify and strip the heart of everything earthly, the love of God cannot enter in and possess it all. God would reign with His love in our hearts, but He would reign there alone. He will have no companions to rob Him of a portion of that affection which He justly claims to have all his own.

Some souls lament that, in all their spiritual exercises, in Meditations, Communions, Spiritual Readings, Visits to the Blessed Sacrament, they do not find God, and know not by what means to find Him. To these St. Teresa suggests the right means when she says: “Detach thy heart from all created things, seek God, and thou shalt find Him.”

There are many persons who cannot leave the world and go to live in deserts, as they would wish, in order to converse with God alone, but we must remember that deserts and caves are not necessary in order to enjoy solitude of the heart. Those who, from necessity, are obliged to converse with the world, should remember that as long as their hearts are free from worldly attachments, even in the public streets, in places of resort, and public assemblies, they can possess solitude of heart, and continue united with God. All those occupations we undertake in order to fulfil the Divine will have no power to prevent solitude of the heart. St. Catharine of Sienna truly found God in the midst of the household labours in which her parents kept her employed in order to draw her from devotional exercises; but in the midst of these affairs she preserved a place of retirement in her heart, which she called her cell, and there ceased not to converse alone with God.

Be still, and see that I am God (Ps. xlv. 11). In order to possess that Divine light which enables us to know the goodness of God, the knowledge of which draws to itself all our affections, our hearts must be emptied of all those earthly attachments that hinder us from knowing God. As a crystal vase, when filled with sand, cannot receive the light of the sun, so a heart attached to riches, worldly honours, or sensual pleasures, cannot receive the Divine light; and, not knowing God, it does not love Him. In every condition in which a man is placed by God, if creatures are not to draw him from God, it is necessary that he give attention to perform his duties according to the pleasure of God, and then in everything else act as if there were no other beings in existence except himself and God.

We must detach ourselves from everything, and especially from ourselves, by continually thwarting our self-love. In a word, we must desire, or not desire, what God desires or does not desire, without any attachment to our own will, because we do not know that what we ourselves will is the will of God.


Oh how easily he finds God who detaches himself from creatures in order to find Him! The Lord is good … to the soul that seeketh him (Lam. iii. 25). St. Francis de Sales wrote, “The pure love of God consumes everything that is not God, in order to convert everything into itself.” We must, therefore, offer ourselves as an enclosed garden, as the holy spouse in the Canticles is called by God, My sister, my spouse, is a garden inclosed (Cant. iv. 12). The soul that keeps itself shut against earthly affections is called an inclosed garden. It is God Who has given us everything we have, and it is right that He should require of us all our love. When, then, any creature would enter to take a portion of our love, we must altogether deny it entrance, and, turning to God, we must say, with all our heart: What have I in heaven, and besides thee what do I desire upon earth? … Thou art the God of my heart, and the God that is my portion forever (Ps. lxxii. 25, 26). O my God! Who but Thyself can satisfy my soul? After Thee I desire nothing either in Heaven or on earth; Thou alone art sufficient for me, O God of my heart, and my portion forever!

Oh! happy is he who can say: “I have despised the kingdoms of the world, and all the glory thereof, for the love of my Lord Jesus Christ.” Truly, that great servant of God, Sister Margaret of the Cross, the daughter of the Emperor Maximilian II, could say this, when, at her Profession, she put off her rich garments and gems, to clothe herself in the poor woollen habit of the Daughters of St. Clare; and when, as the author of her Life relates, she cast them away with such contempt as to move to tears of devotion all who were present at the function.

O my Jesus, I do not desire that creatures should have any part in my heart; Thou must be my only Lord, by possessing it altogether. Let others seek the delights and grandeurs of this life; Thou alone, both in the present and future life, must be my only portion, my only good, my only love. And, as Thou lovest me, help me to detach myself from everything that can draw me from Thy love. Grant that my soul may be wholly taken up with pleasing Thee, as the only object of all my affections. Take possession of all my heart; I would be no longer my own. Do Thou rule me, and make me ready to follow Thy will in all things. O Mary, Mother of God, in thee I trust. Thy prayers can make me belong wholly to Jesus.

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