by Fr. Daniel Considine, 1950’s
The Value of my Life
There is no such thing as ‘the world’ to God. Each one of us is a world to Him. It is a common mistake not to think half enough of ourselves. To think of ourselves in “general” is an imperfect way of thinking. We each cost the Eternal Son of God His Blood. We are so important to God, we carry out His Will.
In spite of my sins and imperfections, God follows all my history with incessant care and interest. What does it matter if in this year I am a little better or a little worse? In God’s eye a great deal.
It is not only possible, but practicable, for us all to make a mark in Divine History. Acts of virtue, acts of love of Him will make me memorable for ever and ever.
The thought of this, and the effort to fulfil it will color my grey life, and make me ashamed if I dare to think it empty.
My poor life is of the utmost value in God’s eyes. We must try to realize our nearness to God, and His claims upon us. One great privilege of the spiritual life is, there is no time in it. The intensity of an act needs no time, and one moment can hold more than ten years.
There is more danger of our not hoping enough than of our hoping too much. Don’t put your standard so low. If you want to go high, the higher the things you think God wants of you, the better.
Breathe the air of God’s promises, and raise your hearts high. God wants a great deal of us. You have never hitherto believed that He really does. You say to yourself, if God wanted me to be a saint, He should have given me a very different character.
Whether you are a Carmelite or living in the world, there is not the smallest difference in the love God wants of you. Hitherto I have not realized what God wants of me.
The highest gifts of prayer, what are they compared with the gift of His Body and Blood!
When He asks us to look up and see His face, we will look down. When He wants us to walk forward, we will shut our ears to His invitation. Difficulties will vanish at once if we can only bring ourselves to believe that God loves us so.
We must have unconquerable hope in spite of apparent difficulty. Don’t let your heart sink with the false feeling that “somehow God doesn’t care specially for me.” The saints combined humility with the unshaken belief in God’s great love for them.
The Spirit of Penance
We ought not to lose heart when we find there are plenty of occasions on which we might very well practice mortification – and don’t.
It is much better to take two eggs and say to yourself, “How unmortified I am!” than to take only one and wonder how soon it will be before you are canonized.
Honesty is another name for humility sometimes, and if only you are honest, you’ll very likely get so thoroughly ashamed of yourself that you’ll get mortified and do with no egg at all.
If you are dishonest with yourself, you’ll never get on: not to practice mortification, and then to find false reasons for our neglect, is bad.
Saint Paul said: ‘I chastise my body and bring it into subjection'(1Cor. ix. 27), but we should not be discouraged because we can’t carry out much bodily austerity, or think that on that account we can’t hope to get very near to God.
Self-mastery has no necessary connection with bodily austerity. What is wanted is the subduing of the spirit: the body counts for nothing. But if the body is a difficulty and a hindrance to this end, we must bring it into subjection.
When God wants great bodily mortification He makes a soul know it, and gives the desire for it so strongly that the soul would suffer more by not doing it than it does in the austerity.
You ask, then, is it possible for me to be a true servant of God without performing wonderful austerities? Yes, great grace is often given without great bodily penance: the Little Flower of Jesus is an instance of this.
If you don’t get what you desire in the spiritual life, it has nothing to do with your not fasting every day.
It is no small penance in these days merely to bear with yourself; and if you bear properly with yourself and with your neighbor, God will give you the highest graces.
With yourself: nervous apprehension, variability of temper, depression, succession of moods – these have a great tendency to interfere with our peace, making us think we are vacillating in our love of God when that is not really the case.
Don’t be idiotic!
When you have found this or that disturbance produced by a fit of nerves, don’t straightway fancy something is wrong with your soul. You are being carried away by false notions and making a great mistake if you think you can’t be good because you don’t feel good.
To feel “rotten,” and yet have patience with yourself, remaining quiet and keeping your recollection: to maintain evenness of temper; not to be influenced by changing moods; to be always serene; this is to practice real austerity and high virtue.
The feeling of depression, when all faith and hope seem lost, and we can’t do anything, is a great trial. But to endure it patiently is great virtue.
Read Saint Teresa with intelligence: she says the most trying part of sickness is the inability to fix our thoughts on God. But she says we must not let that matter: the important thing is to submit to the will of God, to accept our sickness with patience, and suffer for God even if we cannot keep our thoughts fixed on Him.
Indigestion, ennui, bodily weakness, are often more difficult to bear properly than bodily austerity.
Some people are impatient because they cannot go daily to Holy Communion. If you can’t go, bear the deprivation quietly for God’s sake.
And don’t talk to everybody about your health, and, above all, about your nerves. To hear some people talk, you would think they didn’t believe God knows what nerves are.
Accept your sickness from God, and in these black hours be very content to have Him and no other as a witness to your pains of body and of mind.
If you can’t do more than suffer in silence, be willing not to do more. If you know someone who acts in this way, you know someone who is very pleasing to God.
With your neighbor: most of us have a good deal to put up with from our neighbors, yet we generally forget what they have to put up with from us.
Still, we have difficulties even with very good people. They are not omniscient, they often make mistakes, and they treat us according to their ideas. It is part of the way in which God wishes to sanctify us.
Conceited as we are, we should be much worse if we were not corrected by others. There are many excellent parts in our characters, but some dreadful gaps. We are like trees that have not grown straight.
If we would let Our Lord have His way, and bear with what He does for us through our neighbor, we should grow more symmetrical.
Why are we not more considerate? Why do we form such harsh judgements? Here indeed have we great scope for true austerity.
The person who says, “I do not love my wife or my husband any more,” acknowledges simply that “the will to love” is absent. Such a person lacks good sportsmanship too, for a good sport will take pride in succeeding in every adventure, and marriage is one of life’s chief adventures. -Cana is Forever, by Rev. Charles Hugo Doyle https://amzn.to/2XOV5I1 (afflink)
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