Evening Meditations for the Third Sunday after Epiphany ~ Alphonsus Liguori

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Evening Meditation

THE SAINTS ARE TRULY WISE

I.

Let us be persuaded that the truly wise are those who know how to love God and to gain Heaven. Happy the man to whom God has given the science of the Saints (Sap. x. 10). Oh, how sublime that science which teaches us to know how to love God and to save our souls! Happy, says St. Augustine, is the man “who knows God, although he may be ignorant of other things.” They who know God, the love which He deserves, and how to love Him, stand not in need of any other knowledge. They are wiser than those who are masters of many sciences, but know not how to love God. Brother Egidius of the Order of St. Francis, once said to St. Bonaventure: Happy you, O Father Bonaventure, who are so learned, and who by your learning, can become more holy than I can who am but a poor ignorant man. The Saint replied: “If an old woman loves God more than I do, she is more learned and more holy than I am.” At hearing this, Brother Egidius exclaimed: “O poor old woman! Poor old woman! hear what Father Bonaventure says. If you love God more than he does, you can surpass him in sanctity.”

It was this excited the emulation of St. Augustine and made him ashamed of himself. He exclaimed: “The ignorant rise up and bear away the kingdom of Heaven,” and what are we, the learned ones of this world doing? Oh! how many of the rude and illiterate are saved, who, though they know not how to read, know how to love God, and how many of the wise ones of the world are damned! Oh, truly wise were St. John of God, St. Felix of Cantalicio, and St. Paschal, poor Franciscan lay-brothers, who were unacquainted with human sciences but learned in the science of the Saints. But the wonder is, that, though worldlings themselves are fully persuaded of this truth, and constantly extol the merits of those who retire from the world to live only for God, still they act as if they believed it not.

II.

Tell me, to which class do you wish to belong — to the wise ones of the world, or to the wise ones of God? Before you make a choice, St. John Chrysostom advises you to go to the graves of the dead! Oh, how eloquently do the sepulchres of the dead teach us the science of the Saints and the vanity of all earthly goods! “For my part,” says the Saint, “I see nothing but rottenness, bones and worms.” Among these skeletons I cannot distinguish the noble, the rich, or the learned; I see that they have all become dust and rottenness. Thus all their greatness and glory have passed away like a dream!

What, then, must we do? Listen to the advice of St. Paul: This, therefore, I say, brethren: the time is short: it remaineth that … they that use this world, as if they used it not; for the fashion of this world passeth away (1 Cor. vii. 29, 31). This world is a scene which shall pass away and end very soon: The time is short. During the days of life that remain, let us endeavour to live like men who are wise not according to the world, but according to God, by attending to the sanctification of our souls, and by adopting the means of salvation; by avoiding dangerous occasions; by practising prayer; joining some pious Sodality; frequenting the Sacraments; reading every day a spiritual book; and if it be in our power, by daily hearing Mass, or, at least, visiting Jesus in the Holy-Sacrament of the altar, and an image of the most holy Mary. Thus we shall be truly wise and be happy for time and for eternity

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