THE PRACTICE OF THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST
VI.-THE MEANS OF AVOIDING LUKEWARMNESS AND ATTAINING PERFECTION
We must begin quickly, and not wait for the morrow. Who knows whether we shall afterwards find time or not! Ecclesiastes counsels us: Whatsoever thy hand is able to do, do it earnestly-(Eccles. ix. 10). What thou canst do, do it quickly, and defer it not; and he adduces the reason, why: For neither work, nor reason, nor wisdom, nor knowledge shall be in hell, whither thou art hastening. Because in the next life there is no more time to work, nor free-will to merit, nor prudence to do well, nor wisdom or experience to take good counsel by, for after death what is done is done. A nun of the convent of Torre de Specchi in Rome, whose name was Sister Bonaventura, led a very lukewarm kind of life. There came a Religious, Father Lancisius, to give the spiritual exercises to the nuns, and Sister Bonaventura, feeling no inclination to shake off her tepidity, began to listen to the exercises with no good will. But at the very first sermon, she was won by Divine grace, so that she immediately went to the feet of the Father who preached, and said to him, with at tone of real determination, “Father, I wish to become a saint, and quickly a saint.” And, by the assistance of God, she did so; for she only lived eight months after that event, and during that short time she lived and died a Saint.
David said: And I said, now have I begun-(Ps.lxxvi. ll). So likewise did St. Charles Borromeo speak: “Today I begin to serve God.” And we should act in the same way as if we had hitherto done no good whatever; for indeed, all that we do for God is nothing, since we are bound to do it. Let us therefore each day resolve to begin afresh to belong wholly to God. Neither let us stop to observe what or how others act. They who become truly saints are few. St. Bernard says: “One cannot be perfect without being singular” If we would imitate the common run of men, we should always remain imperfect, as for the most part they are. We must overcome all, renounce all, in, order to gain all. St. Teresa said: “Because we do not come to the conclusion of giving all our affection to God, so neither does He give all His love to us.” Oh God, how little is all that is given to Jesus Christ, Who has given His Blood and His life for us! ” However much we give,” says the same Saint, “is but mire, in comparison of one single drop of Blood shed for us by our Blessed Lord.” The Saints know not how to spare themselves, when there is a question of pleasing a God Who gave Himself wholly, without reserve, on purpose to oblige us to deny Him nothing. St. Chrysostom wrote: “He gave all to thee, and kept nothing for Himself.” God has bestowed His entire Self upon thee; there is, then, no excuse for thee to behave reservedly with God. He has even died for us all, says the Apostle, in order that each one of us may live only for Him Who died for us: Christ died for all; that they also who live may not now live to themselves, but unto him who died for them-(2 Cor. v. 15).