Spiritual Reading for Day IIII Christmas Octave ~ St Alphonsus Liguori

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Spiritual Reading



O God, with what interior light, with what spiritual delights and sweetness of love does not Jesus refresh the good Religious at prayer or Communion, or in presence of the Blessed Sacrament, or in the cell before the Crucifix! Christians in the world are like plants in a barren land, on which little of the dew of Heaven falls, and from that little the soil, for want of proper cultivation, seldom derives fertility. Poor seculars! they desire to devote more time to prayer, to receive the Holy Eucharist, and to hear the word of God more frequently; they long for a little solitude, to be more recollected and more closely united to God. But temporal affairs, human ties, visits of friends, the restraints of the world, place these means of sanctification almost beyond their reach. Religious are, on the contrary, like trees planted in a fruitful soil, which is continually and abundantly watered by the dews of Heaven. In the cloister the Lord continually comforts and animates His faithful servants by infusing interior lights and consolations during the time of meditation, sermons, and spiritual reading, and by means of the good example of their companions. Well, then, might Mother Catherine of Jesus, of the Holy Order of St. Teresa, say, when reminded of the labours she had endured in the foundation of a convent: “God has rewarded me abundantly by permitting me to spend one hour as a Religious in the house of His holy Mother.”


Worldly goods can never satisfy the cravings of the human soul. The brute creation, being destined only for this world, is content with the goods of the earth; but, being made for God, man can never enjoy happiness except in the possession of God. The experience of ages proves this truth; for if the goods of this life could content the heart of man, kings and princes who abound in riches, honours, and pleasures of the senses, would have days of perfect bliss. But history and experience attest that they are the most unhappy and discontented of men, and that riches and dignities are always the fertile source of fears, of troubles, and of bitterness. The Emperor Theodosius entered one day, unknown, into the cell of a solitary, and after some conversation, said: “Father, do you know who I am? I am the Emperor Theodosius.” He then added: “Oh, how happy are you, who lead here on earth a life of contentment, free from the cares and woes of the world. I am a sovereign of the earth, but, be assured, Father, that I never dine in peace.”

But how can the world, a place of treachery, of jealousies, of fears and tumult, give peace to man? In the world, indeed, there are certain wretched pleasures which afflict rather than content the soul; which delight the senses for a moment, but leave lasting anguish and remorse behind. Hence the more exalted and honourable the rank and station a man holds in the world, the greater is his uneasiness and discontent; for earthly dignities, in proportion to their greatness, are accompanied with cares and contradictions. We may, then, conclude that the world, in which the heart-rending passions of ambition, avarice, and the love of pleasure, exercise a cruel tyranny over the heart, must be a place, not of ease and happiness, but of inquietude and torture. Its goods can never be possessed to the full extent of our wishes; and when enjoyed, instead of bringing peace to the soul, they fill it with bitterness. Hence, whosoever is satisfied with earthly goods, is saturated with wormwood and poison.

Happy, then, the Religious who loves God, and recognises the favour bestowed on him in being called from the world and being placed in Religion, where, conquering by holy mortification his rebellious passions, and practising continued self-denial, he enjoys that peace, which, according to the Apostle, exceeds all the delights of sensual gratification. The peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding (Phil. iv. 7). Find me, if you can, among those seculars on whom fortune has lavished her Choicest gifts, or even among the first princes or kings of the earth, a soul more happy or content than a Religious divested of every worldly affection, and intent only on pleasing God. He is not rendered unhappy by poverty, for he preferred it to all the riches of the earth — he has voluntarily chosen it, and rejoices in its privations; nor by the mortification of the senses, for he entered Religion to die to the world and to himself; nor by the restraints of obedience, for he knows that the renunciation of self-will is the most acceptable sacrifice he could offer to God. He is not afflicted at his humiliation, because it was to be despised that he came into the house of God. I have chosen to be an abject in the house of my God, rather than dwell in the tabernacle of sinners (Ps. lxxxiii. 11). Retirement is to him rather a source of consolation than of sorrow; because it frees him from the cares and dangers of the world. To serve the Community, to be treated with contempt, or, to be afflicted with infirmities, does not trouble the tranquility of his soul, because he knows that all this makes him more dear to Jesus Christ. Finally, the observance of his Rule does not trouble a Religious, because the labours and burdens which it imposes, if heavy, are only the weight of wings which are necessary to fly to and be united with his God. Oh! how happy and delightful is the state of a Religious, whose heart is not divided, and who can say with St. Francis: “My God and my All!”

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