Spiritual Reading for Passion Wednesday ~ St Alphonsus Liguori

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Spiritual Reading


O Lord, exclaimed holy Job, what is man, that thou shouldst magnify him? or why dost thou set thy heart upon him? (Job vii. 17). My God, what is man whom Thou hast so highly honoured? What benefit has he ever conferred upon Thee that Thy whole Heart should, as it were, be occupied in seeking his welfare, and in endeavouring to make known to him the affection Thou dost bear him? St. Thomas says that God loved man “as if man were His God; as if without him He could not be happy”; as if God could not be happy unless man were also happy … And had you been the God of Jesus Christ, what more could He have done for you than spend so many years in pains and toils, and afterwards submit to a cruel death? Had Jesus been compelled to save His own Father’s life, what more could He have done than He has done for you? But, O God, where is your gratitude? Had one of your servants suffered what your Jesus has endured for your salvation, could you ever forget his sufferings, or live without loving him? Ah! at the thoughts of the death of Jesus Christ each of us should be, as it were, foolish through love for Him, and should exclaim with St. Paschal: “My Love has been crucified for me! My Love has died for me!”

But what we have not as yet done, we may now do. God gives us time to do it. Jesus has died for us, that by His love for us He might gain the entire dominion of our hearts. To this end, says St. Paul, Christ died � that he might be the Lord both of the dead and of the living. (Rom. xiv. 9). Jesus died that we might live no longer to ourselves, but only to that God Who has given His life for us. Christ died for all, says the same Apostle, that they also who live may not now live to themselves, but unto him who died for them. (2 Cor. v. 15). Contemplating the death of Jesus Christ, and the love with which He died for men, the Saints esteemed it little to forfeit, for His sake, property, honours, and life. How many grandees, how many kings and queens and empresses, have renounced their kingdoms to shut themselves up in a cloister, and live only for the love of Jesus Christ! How many millions of Martyrs have esteemed themselves happy to be able to sacrifice their lives for Him amid the most horrible torments! How many young and noble virgins, renouncing the nuptials of the first monarchs of the earth, have gone with joy to death to make some return of love for the love of a God Who died for the love of them.

And do you think that you have as yet done anything for the love of Jesus Christ? What proof or token have you as yet given of the love that you bear Him? It is certain that as He has died for the Saints, for St. Lucy, for St. Agatha, for St. Agnes, so He has also died for you. Consider, moreover, the special graces He has bestowed on you, and that He has withheld from so many of your companions who had as good a claim to them as you had. How many noble ladies, how many princesses, have been born among infidels and heretics, and live miserably in a state of perdition, bereft of the Sacraments, of sermons, and of the other helps necessary for salvation? And to you He has given the grace to be born in the bosom of the true Church. He has also given wealth to your parents, that you might have more opportunities and means of acquiring eternal salvation. He has also chosen you from among so many of your companions, whom He has left in the midst of the dangers of the world; from these dangers He has rescued you and perhaps against your inclination, and assists you continually by His lights and interior calls, by the Sacraments, by sermons, by the example of the good, and by so many other helps to salvation. Consider also the many mercies He has shown you, in pardoning so many offences. It was enough for Him that you repented and asked forgiveness: He instantly pardoned you; you ungratefully offended Him again, and He with the same love pardoned you, and instead of inflicting chastisements on your multiplied offences, He has multiplied graces, lights, calls, and consolations. And behold, at this moment, while you read this book, He continues to call you to His love. What are your thoughts? What resolutions do you make? What do you wait for? Perhaps you intend to wait till the Lord calls you no more, and abandons you.

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