THE PRACTICE OF THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST
X.-THE MEANS OF AVOIDING LUKEWARMNESS AND ATTAINING PERFECTION
The greatest evil is, that without mental prayer we do not pray at all. I have spoken frequently in my spiritual works of the necessity of prayer, and more especially in a little volume entitled, On Prayer, the Great Means of Salvation and Perfection; and here also I will say a few other things. It will be sufficient, then, to quote the opinion of the Venerable Palafox, Bishop of Osma: “How can charity last, unless God grants us perseverance? How will the Lord grant us perseverance unless we ask it of Him? And how shall we ask it of Him except by prayer? Without prayer there is no communication with God for the preservation of virtue.” And so it is, because he that neglects mental prayer sees very little into the wants of his soul; he knows little of the dangers of his salvation, of the means to be used in order to overcome temptations; and so, understanding little of the necessity of prayer, he leaves off praying, and will certainly be lost.
Then as regards subjects for Meditation, nothing is more useful than to meditate on the Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Hell, and Heaven; but it is of especial advantage to meditate on Death, and to imagine ourselves expiring on the bed of sickness, with the Crucifix in our hands, and on the point of entering into eternity. But above all, to one that loves Jesus Christ, and is anxious always to increase in His love, no consideration is more efficacious than that of the Passion of the Redeemer. St Francis of Sales calls Mount Calvary “the Mountain of Lovers.” All the lovers of Jesus Christ love to abide on this Mountain, where no air is breathed but the air of Divine love. When we see a God dying for our love and dying in order to gain our love (He loved us and delivered himself up for us), it is impossible for us not to love Him ardently. Such darts of love continually issue forth from the Wounds of Christ Crucified as pierce even hearts of stone. Oh, happy he who is ever going during life to the heights of Calvary! O blessed Mount! O lovely Mount! O beloved Mount! And who shall ever leave thee more! A Mount that sends forth flames to enkindle the souls that perseveringly abide upon thee!