CONSIDERATIONS ON THE RELIGIOUS STATE. VI.
Consider the peace that God gives to good Religious.
St. Teresa used to say that one drop of heavenly consolation is worth more than all the delights of the world. Oh, what contentment does he not find, who, having left all for God, is able to say with St. Francis: “Deus meus et omnia!” — My God and my All! — free from the world’s slavery, and enjoying the liberty of the Children of God.
The promises of God cannot fail. God has said: Every one that has left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting (Matt. xix. 29). That is to say, a hundredfold on this earth, and life everlasting in Heaven.
Peace of the soul is of greater value than all the kingdoms of the world. And what avails it to have dominion over the whole world without interior peace? Better is it to be the poorest peasant in the land and content, than to be the lord of the whole world, and to live a discontented life. But who can give this peace? The world? Oh no, peace is a blessing that is obtained only from God. “O God!” the Church prays, “give to Thy servants that peace which the world cannot give.” He is called the God of all consolation (2 Cor. i. 3). But if God be the sole Giver of peace, to whom, think you, will He give that peace if not to those who leave all, and detach themselves from all creatures, in order to give themselves entirely to their Creator? And therefore we see good Religious shut up in their cells, mortified, despised and poor, yet living a more contented life than the great ones of the world, with all the riches, the pomps, and diversions they enjoy.
St. Scholastica said that if men knew the peace good Religious enjoy, the whole world would become a monastery; and St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi said that if men knew it they would scale the walls in order to get into the monasteries. The human heart having been created for an infinite Good, finite creatures cannot content it. God alone, Who is an Infinite Good can content it: Delight in the Lord and he will give thee the request of thy heart (Ps. xxxvi. 4). Oh no; a good Religious united with God envies none of the princes of the world who possess kingdoms, riches and honours. “Let the rich,” he will say with St. Paulinus, “have their riches, the kings have their kingdoms, to me Christ is my kingdom and my glory.” He will see lovers of the world foolishly glory in pomp and vanity; but he, seeking to detach himself more from earthly things, and to unite himself more closely to God, will live contented in this life, and may well say: Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we call upon the name of the Lord, our God (Ps. xix. 8).
O my Lord and my God, my All! I know that Thou alone canst make me contented in this life and in the next. But I will not love Thee for my own contentment; I will love Thee to content Thy divine Heart. I wish this to be my peace, my only satisfaction during my whole life, to unite my will to Thy holy will, even should I have to suffer pain in order to do this. Thou art my God, I am Thy creature.
St. Teresa used to say that one drop of heavenly consolation is worth more than all the delights of the world. Father Charles of Lorraine, having become a Religious, said that God, by one moment of the happiness that He gave him to feel in Religion, superabundantly paid him for all he had left for God. Hence his jubilation was sometimes so great that, when alone in his cell, he could not help dancing for very joy. The Blessed Seraphino of Ascoli, a Capuchin Lay-brother, said that he would not exchange a foot length of his cord for all the kingdoms of the world.
Oh, what contentment does he not find, who, having left all for God is able to say with St. Francis: “My God and my All!” and to see himself thus freed from the servitude of the world, from the thraldom of worldly fashion, and from all purely earthly affections. This is the liberty enjoyed by the children of God, and such good Religious are. It is true that in the beginning, the deprivation of the reunions and pastimes of the world, the observances in Community and of the Rules, seem to be thorns; but these thorns, as Our Lord said to St. Bridget, will all become flowers and delights of Paradise to him who courageously bears their first prickles, and then he will taste on earth that peace which, St. Paul says, surpasseth all the gratification of the senses, the enjoyments of feasts, of banquets, and other pleasures of the world: The peace of God which surpasseth all understanding (Phil. iv. 7). And what greater peace can there be than to know that one pleases God?
And what greater good can I hope for than to please Thee, my Lord and my God, Who hast been so partial in Thy love towards me. Thou, O my Jesus, hast left Heaven to live for love of me a poor and mortified life. I leave all to live only for Thee, my most Blessed Redeemer. I love Thee with my whole heart. If only Thou wilt give me the grace to love Thee, treat me as Thou pleasest.
O Mary, Mother of God, protect me and render me like to thee, not in thy glory which I do not deserve, but in pleasing God, and obeying His Holy Will, as thou didst. Amen.