Morning Meditation for Wednesday – Nineteenth Week after Pentecost ~ St Alphonsus Liguori

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Morning Meditation

THE GREAT PERFECTION ATTAINED BY ST. TERESA

An ardent desire for sanctity is a great means for becoming a saint. God does not bestow the abundance of His graces except on those souls who hunger for them. Our Saint says we must not set bounds to our desires, but must hope by God’s grace to reach the heights the Saints have reached.

I.

An ardent desire for sanctity is a great means towards becoming a saint; for, on the one hand, God does not bestow the abundance of His graces except on those souls that hunger for them, as the most Holy Mary says, in her sublime canticle: He has filled the hungry with good things (Luke, i. 53). And, on the other hand, this desire is necessary as regards ourselves, to the end that we may have the power of persevering under the hardships that we must endure if we would gain the great treasure of perfection. For, that which is but little desired, men make but little exertion to obtain; whereas, on the contrary, to compass the acquisition of what is much desired, there is no toil, however arduous, that they do not find easy and sweet. On this account it is that God gives the appellation of “blessed” to those that have not the desire merely, but a hunger, that is, an ardent desire for sanctity: Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice (Matt. v. 6).

Teresa, whom we may compare to an eagle of heaven, and to whom the desire of fulfilling the perfect will of God gave wings wherewith to fly rapidly forward to perfection, has left us on record the following words: “Let us entertain great thoughts, for from them proceeds our good.” And she says elsewhere: “We must not limit our desires, but we must hope that in relying on God we shall be able, through the efforts we make, gradually to reach the heights that many of the Saints by His grace have reached.” She used to say that the Divine Majesty loves generous souls, provided only that they put no trust in themselves; and she testified, speaking from experience, that she had never known a fainthearted soul to make as much progress even in several years as generous souls make within the space of a few days: “For,” said she, “the Lord is as pleased with desires as with their effects.”

Oh! how great, in truth, was her desire of pleasing her Lord! She does not shrink from the avowal, that, full of imperfections as she was, her desires were, nevertheless, great and perfect. She writes: “The desire of serving God comes to me attended with transports I am unable to express. It seems to me that no suffering, not even death, or Martyrdom itself, would be difficult for me to endure.” Indeed, there was nothing, however difficult, she did not undertake and carry to a successful termination, when once she knew that it was pleasing to God. And she testified this of herself: “There is nothing, however painful, that I am not ready to bear as soon as it comes.” Thus the saint, having learned by her own experience, used to say: “I am astonished at what can be done by encouraging oneself to undertake great things, though we may not have the strength for them at once. The soul takes a flight upwards and ascends very high.” And here she adds a lesson of much importance — namely, that there is no humility in not wishing to become a saint. Humility is necessary, she says; but we must understand that the devil strives to make us think it is pride to have great desires, and a wish to imitate the Saints.

II.

In order to acquire perfection, it is not enough merely to desire it; we must also have the firm resolution of attaining it; for the desire without the resolution will be of no avail. This is what happens to such a number of souls who are always desiring, and perpetually multiplying their desires, but never come to a determination of setting themselves to the work in good earnest, and so remain ever in their tepidity, without making any progress. Our Saint writes: “I would rather have a short prayer producing great results, than a prayer lasting several years, during which the soul never resolves on performing anything of any real value for God.”

St. Bernard says that many fail to become saints because they lack the courage. And it was the subject of our Saint’s lamentation when she said: “Many remain down at the foot of the mountain who could scale its summit.” On the other hand, she gives the assurance, that when a soul, in order to please God, undertakes anything with resolution, she easily accomplishes her purpose. “It is quite true, O Lord,” she writes: “as is said by Thy Prophet, Thou dost feign there is labour in the observance of Thy law; yet I can perceive none; and I know not why the way that leads to Thee should be called narrow. I have experienced in a variety of circumstances,” she adds, “that when any one from the outset resolves courageously on the accomplishment of anything whatever may be its difficulties, if he does it in order to please God, he has nothing to fear. The devil, has great fear of resolute souls, seeing that every plot he contrives for their hurt turns to their profit.”

O glorious Saint, I rejoice with thee, now that I behold thee in Heaven, where thou art loving thy God with a love that fully contents that heart of thine, which on earth so much desired to love Him. But since, in Heaven thy love for God has increased, assist O holy mother, this miserable soul of mine that desires to burn, like thyself, with holy love for this Infinite God, Who deserves the love of an infinity of hearts. Say for me to Jesus what thou once didst say to Him in this life for one of His servants: “Lord, let us take him to be our friend.” Ask Jesus to inspire me with the resolution of consecrating my whole will, once for all, to Him, and of studying in everything that alone which is most pleasing in His sight and which may best promote His glory.

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