Evening Meditations for the Eighth Thursday After Pentecost~ St Alphonsus Liguori

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Evening Meditation

“Charity endureth all things”



St. Francis de Sales says: “It is a mistake to estimate devotion by the consolations which we feel. True devotion in the way of God consists in having a determined will to execute all that is pleasing to God.” Almighty God is wont to make use of aridities in order to draw closer to Him His most cherished souls. Attachment to our own inordinate inclinations is the greatest obstacle to true union with God. When, therefore, God intends to draw a soul to His perfect love, He endeavours to detach her from all affection to created goods. Thus His first care is to deprive her of temporal goods, of worldly pleasures, of property, honours, friends, relations, and bodily health; by the like means, that is, of losses, troubles, neglect, bereavements, and infirmities, He extirpates by degrees all earthly attachment, in order that the affections may be set on Him alone.


With a view to produce a longing for spiritual things God regales the soul at first with great consolations, with an abundance of tears and tenderness. She is thus easily weaned from the gratifications of sense, and seeks further to mortify herself with works of penance, fasts, cilices, and disciplines. At this stage the director must keep a check on her, and not allow her to practise mortifications–at least not all those for which she asks permission –because, under the spur of this sensible devotion, a soul might easily ruin her health by indiscretion. It is a subtle artifice of the devil, when he beholds a person giving himself up to God, and receiving the consolations and caresses which God generally gives to beginners, to do his utmost to plunge him into the performance of such immoderate penances as utterly to destroy his health; so that afterwards, because of bodily weakness, he not only gives up the mortifications, but prayer, Communion, and all exercises of devotion, and eventually sinks back into his old way of living. On this account, the director should be very sparing in allowing mortifications to those who are only just entering upon the spiritual life, and who desire to practise bodily mortifications. Let him exhort them to practise rather interior mortification by bearing patiently with affronts and contradictions, by obedience to superiors, by bridling the curiosity to see, to hear, and the like; and let him tell them that, when they have acquired the good habit of practising these interior mortifications, they will then be sufficiently perfect to proceed to the external. It would be, of course, a serious error to say, as some say, that external mortifications are of little or no use. Without doubt, interior mortification is most requisite for perfection; but it does not follow from this that external mortifications are unnecessary. St. Vincent de Paul declared that the person who did not practise external mortifications would be mortified neither interiorly nor exteriorly. And St. John of the Cross declared that the director who despised external mortifications was unworthy of confidence, even though he should work miracles.

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