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Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

Morning Meditation


What will be the terror of the poor worldling when he reflects: In a short time I shall be no more! And I know not whether I shall be happy or miserable for eternity! O God, what consternation will the bare words, Judgment, Hell, Eternity, strike into the souls of poor worldlings!


We must die. Sooner or later we must all die. In every age houses and cities are filled with new inhabitants, and their predecessors are consigned to the grave.

We are born but to die–born with a halter, as it were, about our necks. However long, then, our life may be, a day, an hour, will come which will be our last, and this hour is already determined.

I thank Thee, O God, for the patience with which Thou hast borne with me. Oh, that I had died rather than have ever offended Thee! But since Thou givest me time to repair the past, make known to me what Thou requirest of me, and I will obey Thee in all things.

In a few years neither I who write nor thou who readest will be living on this earth. As we have heard the bell toll for others, so will others one day hear it toll for us. As we now read the names of others inscribed in the lists of the dead, so will others read our names.

In a word, there is no alternative; we must all die. And, what is more terrible, we can die but once; and if once lost, we shall be lost for ever.

What will be your alarm when it is announced to you that you must receive the Last Sacraments, and that there is no time to be lost! Then will you see your relatives and friends leave your room, and none remain but your confessor and those who are to attend you in your last moments.

O Jesus, I will not wait until death to give myself to Thee. Thou hast said that Thou knowest not how to reject the soul that seeks Thee: Seek and you shall find (Matt. vii. 7).

Now, therefore, O Jesus, do I seek Thee; grant that I may find Thee. I love Thee, O infinite Goodness! Thee alone do I desire, and besides Thee, nothing more.

In the midst of his schemes and worldly projects the man of the world shall hear it said to him: “My brother, you are fatally ill, and must prepare to die.” He would wish to put his accounts in order; but, alas! the terror and confusion which agitate him render him incapable of doing anything.

Whatever he sees or hears adds to his pain and distress. All worldly things are now thorns to him: the remembrance of past pleasures, his vanities, his successes, the friends who have withdrawn him from God, vain apparel; all are thorns, and all alarm and torment him.

What will be his terror when he reflects: “In a short time I shall be no more; and I know not whether I shall be happy, or miserable, for eternity!” O God, what consternation will the bare words, Judgment, Hell, Eternity, strike into the souls of poor dying worldlings!

My Redeemer, I believe that Thou hast died for me. From Thy precious Blood do I hope for salvation. I love Thee, O infinite Goodness! And I am grieved for having offended Thee. O Jesus, my Hope, my Love, have pity on me.


Consider that poor worldling now seized with his last illness. He who but a little while ago went about slandering, threatening, and ridiculing others, is suddenly struck down and deprived of his strength and bodily senses, so that he can no longer speak, or see, or hear.

Alas! the unhappy man thinks now no more of his worldly projects, or his schemes of vanity; the thought of the account which he must soon render to God alone occupies his mind. His relatives are weeping and sighing, or in sad silence around him, and his confessor is there to assist him.

Physicians consult together. Everything increases his alarm. In such a state, he thinks no longer of his amusements; he thinks only of the news which has been brought him–his malady is fatal!

But there is no help for it, and in this state of confusion, in this tempest of pain, affliction, and fear, he must prepare himself to depart out of this world. But how is he to prepare himself in so short a time and his mind so troubled? But it matters not! There is no remedy; he must depart! What is done is done!

O God, what shall my end be? No, I desire not to die in so great uncertainty as to my salvation. I will change my life. O Jesus! help me, for I am resolved to love Thee henceforward with my whole heart. Unite me to Thyself, and never suffer me to b
e separated from Thee.

Spiritual Reading



St. Bernardine of Sienna says that Prayer is a faithful ambassador, well known to the King of Heaven, and having access to His audience chamber, and able by his importunity to induce the merciful Heart of the King to grant every aid to us His wretched creatures, groaning in the midst of our conflicts and miseries in this valley of tears. Isaias also assures us, that as soon as the Lord hears our prayers He is moved with compassion towards us, and does not leave us to cry long to Him, but instantly replies, and grants us what we ask: Weeping, thou shalt not weep; he will surely have pity upon thee: at the voice of thy cry as soon as he shall hear, he will answer thee (Is. xxx. 19). In another place He complains of us by the mouth of Jeremias: Am I become a wilderness to Israel, or a lateward springing land? Why then have my people said, we are revolted, we will come to thee no more? (Jer. ii. 31). Why do you say that you will no more have recourse to Me? Has My mercy become to you a barren land, which can yield you no fruits of grace? or a tardy soil, which yields its fruit too late? So has our loving Lord assured us that He never neglects to hear us, and to hear us instantly when we pray; and so does He reproach those who neglect to pray through diffidence of being heard.

If God were to allow us to present our petitions to Him once a month, even this would be a great favour. The kings of the earth give audience a few times a year, but God gives continual audience. St. Chrysostom writes that God is always waiting to hear our prayers, and that a case never occurred when He neglected to hear a petition offered to Him with the proper dispositions. And again, he says that when we pray to God, before we have finished recounting to Him our petitions, He has already heard us: “It is always obtained, even while we are yet praying.” We even have the like promise from God: As they are yet speaking I will hear (Is. lxv. 24). The Lord, says David, stands near to everyone who prays, to console, to hear, and to save him: The Lord is nigh to all them that call upon him; to all that call upon him in truth (that is, as they ought). He will do the will of them that fear him; and he will hear their prayer and will save them (Ps. cxliv. 18, 19). It was in this that Moses gloried, saying: There is no other nation so great, that has gods so nigh them, as our God is present to all our petitions (Deut. iv. 7). The gods of the Gentiles were deaf to those who invoked them, for they were wretched fabrications, which could do nothing. But our God, Who is Almighty, is not deaf to our prayers, but always stands near the man who prays, ready to grant him all the graces which he asks: In what day soever I shall call upon thee, behold I shall know that thou art my God (Ps. lv. 10). Lord, says the Psalmist, hereby do I know that Thou art my God, all goodness and mercy, in that, whenever I have recourse to Thee, Thou dost instantly help me.


We are so poor that we have nothing; but if we pray we are no longer poor. If we are poor, God is rich; and God, as the Apostle says, is all liberality to him that calls for His aid: Rich unto all who call upon Him (Rom. x. 12). Since therefore (as St. Augustine exhorts us), we have to do with a Lord of infinite power and infinite riches, let us not go to Him for little and valueless things, but let us ask some great thing of Him: “You seek from the Almighty–seek something great.” If a man went to a king to ask some trumpery coin, like a farthing, methinks that man would but insult the king. On the other hand, we honour God, we honour His mercy, and His liberality, when, though we see how miserable we are, and how unworthy of any kindness, we yet ask for great graces, trusting in the goodness of God, and in His faithfulness to His promises of granting to the man who prays whatever grace he asks: You shall ask whatsoever you will, and it shall be done unto you (Jo. xv. 7). St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi said that “God feels Himself so honoured and is so delighted when we ask for His grace, that He is, in a certain sense, grateful to us; because when we do this we seem to open to Him a way to do us a kindness, and to satisfy His nature, which is to do good to all. “And let us be sure that, when we seek God’s grace, He always gives us more than we ask: If any of you want wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men abundantly, and upbraideth not (James i. 5). Thus speaks St. James, to show us that God is not like men, parsimonious of His goods. Men, though rich and liberal, when they give alms, are always somewhat niggardly, and generally give less than what is asked of them, because their wealth, however great it be, is always finite, so that the more they give the less they have. But God, when He is asked, gives His good things abundantly, that is, with a generous hand, always giving more than is asked, because His wealth is infinite, and the more He gives the more He has to give: For thou, O Lord, art sweet and mild; and plenteous in mercy to all that call upon thee (Ps. lxxxv. 5).

On this point, then, we have to fix all our attention, namely, to pray with confidence, feeling sure that by Prayer all the treasures of Heaven are thrown open to us. “Let us attend to this,” says St. Chrysostom, “and we shall open Heaven to ourselves.” Prayer is a treasure; he who asks most receives most. St. Venture says that every time a man has recourse to God by fervent Prayer he gains good things that are of more value than the whole world: “A man gains any day more by devout prayer than the whole world is worth.” Some devout souls spend a great deal of time in reading, and in meditating, but pay little attention to petition. There is no doubt that Spiritual Reading and Meditation on the Eternal Truths are very useful things; “but”, says St. Augustine, “it is of much more use to pray.” By reading and meditating we learn our duty; but by Prayer we obtain the grace to do it. “It is better to pray than to read: by reading we know what we ought to do; by prayer we receive what we ask.” What is the use of knowing our duty and then not doing it, but to make us more guilty in God’s sight? Read and meditate as we like, we shall never satisfy our obligations, unless we ask of God the grace to fulfil them.

And, therefore, as St. Isidore observes, the devil is never more busy to distract us with the thoughts of worldly cares than when he perceives us praying and asking God for grace: “Then mostly does the devil insinuate thoughts, when he sees a man praying.” And why? Because the enemy sees that at no other time do we gain so many treasures of heavenly goods as when we pray. This is the chief fruit of Mental Prayer, to ask God for the graces which we need for perseverance and for eternal salvation; and chiefly for this reason is it that Mental Prayer is morally necessary for the soul, to enable it to preserve itself in the grace of God. For if a person neglects in the time of Meditation to ask for the help necessary for perseverance he will not do so at any other time; for without Meditation he will not think of asking for it, and will not even think of the necessity of asking for it. On the other hand, he who makes his Meditation every day will easily see the needs of his soul, its dangers, and the necessity for his praying; and so he will pray, and will obtain the graces which will enable him to persevere and save his soul. Father Segneri said of himself that when he began to meditate he aimed rather at exciting affections than at making petitions. But when he came to know the immense utility of Prayer, he more and more applied himself, in his long mental prayer, to making petitions.

I will cry like a young swallow, said the devout King Ezechias (Is. xxxviii. 14). The young of the swallow do nothing but cry to their mother for help and food; so should we all do, if we would preserve our life of grace. We should be always crying to God for aid to avoid the death of sin, and to advance in His holy love. Father Rodriguez relates that the Ancient Fathers who were our first instructors in the spiritual life held a conference to determine which was the exercise most useful and most necessary for salvation; and that they determined it was to repeat over and over again the short prayer of David, Incline unto my aid, O God (Ps. lxix. 2). “This,” says Cassian, “is what everyone ought to do who wishes to be saved: he ought to be always saying, My God, help me! My God, help me!” We ought to do this the first thing when we awake in the morning; and then to continue doing it in all our needs, and when attending to our business, whether spiritual or temporal; and most especially when we find ourselves troubled by any temptation or passion. St. Bonaventure says that at times we obtain a grace by a short prayer sooner than by many other good works: “Sometimes a man can soon obtain by a short prayer what he would with difficulty obtain by pious works.” St. Ambrose says that he who prays while he is praying obtains what he asks, because the very act of prayer is the same as receiving: He who asks of God, while he asks receives; for to ask is to receive.” Hence St. Chrysostom wrote that “there is nothing more powerful than a man who prays,” because such a one is made partaker of the power of God. To arrive at perfection, says St. Bernard, we must meditate and pray: by Meditation we see what we want; by Prayer we receive what we want. “Let us mount up by Meditation and Prayer: the one points out what may be deficient, the other obtains it.”


In conclusion, to save one’s soul without Prayer is most difficult, and (as we have seen) in the ordinary course of God’s Providence, even impossible. But by praying our salvation is made secure, and very easy. It is not necessary in order to save our souls to go among the heathen, and give up our life as martyrs. Nor is it necessary, like the hermits, to retire into the desert, and eat nothing but herbs. What does it cost us to say, My God, help me! Lord, assist me! Have mercy on me! Is there anything more easy than this? And this little will be enough to save us, if we will be diligent in doing it. St. Laurence Justinian specially exhorts us to oblige ourselves to say a prayer at least when we begin any action: “We must endeavour to offer a prayer at least in the beginning of every work.” Cassian attests that the principal exhortation of the Ancient Fathers was to have recourse to God with short but frequent prayers. St. Bernard says: “Let no one undervalue his prayer, for God does not undervalue it … He will give either what we ask or what He knows to be better”. And let us understand that if we do not pray we have no excuse, because the grace of Prayer is given to everyone. It is in our power to pray whenever we will, as David says of himself: With me is prayer to the God of my life; I will say to God, thou art my support (Ps. xli. 9). On this point I shall later speak at length, and I will make it quite clear that God gives to all men the grace of Prayer in order that thereby they may obtain every help, and even more than they need, for keeping the Divine Law and for persevering till death. At present I will only say that if we are not saved the whole fault will be ours; and we shall have to answer for our own failure because we did not pray.

Evening Meditation


“Charity hopeth all things”



Charity hopeth all things. St. Thomas, with the Master of the Sentences, defines Christian Hope to be a “sure expectation of eternal happiness.” Its certainty arises from the infallible promise of God to give eternal life to His faithful servants. Now Charity, by taking away sin, at the same time takes away all obstacles to our obtaining the happiness of the Blessed; hence the greater our Charity the greater also and firmer is our Hope; Hope, on the other hand, can in no way interfere with the purity of love, because, according to the observation of St. Denis the Areopagite, love tends naturally to union with the object beloved; or, as St. Augustine asserts in stronger terms, love itself is like a chain of gold that links together the hearts of the lover and the loved. “Love is as it were a kind of bond uniting two together.” And as this union can never be effected at a distance, the person that loves always longs for the presence of the object of his love. The Sacred Spouse languished in the absence of her Beloved, and entreated her companions to acquaint Him with her sorrow, that He might come and console her with His presence: I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that you tell him that I languish with love (Cant. v. 8). A soul that loves Jesus Christ exceedingly cannot but desire and hope, as long as she remains on earth, to go without delay and be united to her beloved Lord in Heaven.

Thus we see that the desire to go and see God in Heaven, not so much for the delight we shall experience in loving God, as for the pleasure we shall afford God by loving Him, is pure and perfect love. Neither is the joy of the Blessed in Heaven any hindrance to the purity of their love; such joy is inseparable from their love; but they take far more satisfaction in their love of God than in the joy that it affords them. Someone will, perhaps, say: But the desire of a reward is rather a love of concupiscence than a love of friendship. We must therefore make a distinction between temporal rewards promised by men, and the eternal rewards of Paradise promised by God to those who love Him: the rewards given by man are distinct from and independent of their own persons, since they do not bestow themselves, but only their goods, when they would remunerate others; on the contrary, the principal reward which God gives to the Blessed is the gift of Himself: I am thy reward exceeding great (Gen. xv.1). Hence to desire Heaven is the same thing as to desire God, Who is our last end.
Monday--Seventh Week after Pentecost

Morning Meditation


At the approach of death the Crucifix will be presented to you, and you will be admonished that Jesus Christ must be your only refuge, your only consolation. To those who have had but little love for Jesus Crucified, this will bring fear rather than encouragement. O my God, assist me by Thy graces to change my life!


If you were about to die, what would you not give for another year, or another month? Resolve, therefore, to do now what you will not be able to do when the hour of your death comes.

Who knows but that this year, or this very month, or even this very day may be your last?

You would not wish to die in the state in which you now are; and will you dare to continue to live on in this state? You lament over those who die suddenly, because they have no time to prepare for death; and you have this precious time, and will you not prepare?

O my God, I will not force Thee to cast me away! I thank Thee for the mercies which Thou hast bestowed upon me; assist me by Thy grace to change my life. I see that Thou desirest to save me; and I desire to be saved that I may praise and love Thee for all eternity.

At the approach of death the Crucifix will be presented to you, and you will be admonished that Jesus Christ must be your only refuge and consolation. To those who have had but little love for Jesus Crucified, this will bring fear rather than encouragement. On the contrary, what a consolation will it be to those who have left all for the love of Jesus!

My beloved Jesus, Thou shalt be my only love in life and in death! My God and my All!


For the dying whose consciences are in a bad state, how terrible will be the sole mention of Eternity! They will not hear anything else spoken of but their malady, physicians, remedies; and if the affairs of their soul be mentioned they soon grow weary, change the subject, and beg of you to let them be at rest!

The sinner will exclaim: "Oh, that I had time to amend my life!" But it will be said to him: Depart out of this world. "Call in additional medical aid," he will answer; "and try other remedies". But of what avail will these be? His hour is come; he must depart and go into Eternity.

To him who loves God how consoling will it be to hear it said: Depart! He will not be terrified, but rejoice at the thought of being soon out of all danger of losing his sovereign and only Good.

Let thy place be this day in peace, and thy abode in holy Sion. What a joyful announcement to him who dies in a well-grounded certainty of being in the grace of God!

O Jesus, in Thy precious Blood I place my hope, that Thou wilt conduct me into that place of peace, where I shall be able to say: O God of my heart, I have now no longer any fear of losing Thee!

Have compassion, O Lord, on his sighs: have compassion on his tears. My God, I will not wait until the hour of death to bewail my offences against Thee; I now detest and abhor them, and am sorry for them with my whole heart, and would willingly die of sorrow for having committed them. I love Thee, O infinite Goodness! I desire to live and to die in sorrow and in love.

Remember, O Lord, he is thy creature; not made by strange gods, but by thee, the only living and true God. O my God, Thou Who hast created me for Thyself, cast me not away from Thy face. If I have despised Thee, I now love Thee more than myself, and I desire to love Thee alone.

He who has had but little love for Jesus Christ will tremble at the coming of the Holy Viaticum; but he, on the contrary, who has loved only Jesus, will be filled with confidence and love, when he beholds his Lord at hand to accompany him in his passage into Eternity.

While Extreme Unction is being administered, the devil will remind the dying man of all the sins committed by means of the senses. Let us therefore hasten to weep for them before the approach of death.

When he has received all the Sacraments, his relatives and friends will retire, and he will be left alone in the presence of the Crucifix.

O Jesus, when all have abandoned me, do not Thou depart from me! In thee, O Lord have I hoped, let me never be confounded (Ps. xxx. 2).

Spiritual Reading



Amen, amen, I say to you, if you ask the Father anything in my name, he will give it you (Jo. xvi. 23). Jesus Christ, then, has promised that whatever we ask the Father in His Name, the Father will give us. But always with the understanding that we ask under the proper conditions. Many seek, says St. James, and obtain not, because they seek improperly: Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss (James iv. 3). So St. Basil, following out the argument of the Apostle, says: "You sometimes ask and receive not, because you have asked badly; either without faith, or lightly, or you have requested things not fit for you, or you have not persevered." "Faithlessly" (infideliter), with little faith or confidence; "lightly" (leviter), that is, with little desire for the grace you ask; "things not fit for you", that is, things not conducive to your salvation; or, you have left off praying. Hence St. Thomas reduces to four in number the conditions required to make Prayer efficacious. These four Conditions are:

A.--That the Prayer be offered for one's self;

B.--For things necessary for salvation;


D.--With Perseverance.


The First Condition, then, of Prayer is that you make it for yourself. The Angelic Doctor holds that one man cannot ex condigno (i.e. by title of justice) obtain for another eternal life; and, consequently, not even those graces which are requisite for his salvation, for, as he says, the promise is made not to others, but only to those that pray: He will give to you.

There are, nevertheless, many Theologians, Cornelius a Lapide, Sylvester, Tolet, Habert, and others, who hold the opposite doctrine, on the authority of St. Basil, who teaches that Prayer, by virtue of God's promise, is infallibly efficacious, even for those for whom we pray, provided they put no positive impediment in the way. And they support their doctrine by Scripture: Pray for one another, that you may be saved; for the continual prayer of the just man availeth much (James v. 16). Pray for them that persecute and calumniate you (Luke vi. 28). And better still, on the text of St. John: He that knoweth his brother to sin a sin which is not to death, let him ask, and life shall be given to him who sinneth not unto death (1 Jo. v. 16). St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, the Venerable Bede, and others explain the words who sinneth not unto death to mean the sinner who does not intend to remain obstinate till death; since for such a one a very extraordinary grace would be required. But for other sinners, who are not guilty of such malice, the Apostle promises their conversion to him who prays for them: Let him ask, and life shall be given him for him that sinneth.

Besides, it is quite certain that the prayers of others are of great use to sinners, and are very pleasing to God. The Lord complains of His servants who do not recommend sinners to Him, as He once complained to St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi, to whom He said one day: See, my daughter, how many Christians are in the devil's hands; if My elect did not deliver them by their prayers they would be devoured. But God specially requires this of Priests and Religious. The same Saint used to say to her nuns: "My sisters, God has not separated us from the world that we should only do good for ourselves but also that we should appease Him in behalf of sinners" and God one day said to her: "I have given to you, My chosen spouses the City of Refuge (i.e. the Passion of Jesus Christ), that you may have a place where you may obtain help for My creatures. Therefore have recourse to it, and thence stretch forth a helping hand to My creatures who are perishing, and even lay down your lives for them." For this reason the Saint, inflamed with holy zeal, used to offer God the Blood of the Redeemer fifty times a day in behalf of sinners, and was quite consumed with the desire she had for their conversion. She used to say: What pain it is, O Lord, to see how one could help Thy creatures by giving one's life for them and not be able to do so! In every exercise she recommended sinners to God; and it is written in her Life that she scarcely passed an hour in the day without praying for them. Frequently too, she arose in the middle of the night and went before the Blessed Sacrament to pray for them; and yet for all this, when she was once found bathed in tears, on being asked the cause, she answered, "Because I seem to myself to do nothing for the salvation of sinners." She went so far as to offer to endure even the pains of hell for their conversion, provided that in that place she might still love God; and often God gratified her by inflicting on her grievous pains and infirmities for the salvation of sinners. She prayed especially for Priests, seeing that their good life was the occasion of salvation to others, while their bad life was the cause of ruin to many; and therefore she prayed God to visit their faults upon her, saying: "Lord, make me die and return to life again as many times as is necessary to satisfy Thy justice for them!" And it is related in her Life that the Saint, by her prayers, did indeed release many souls from the hands of Lucifer.

I wished to speak rather particularly of the zeal of this Saint; but, indeed, no souls that really love God neglect to pray for poor sinners. For how is it possible for a person who loves God, and knows what love He has for our souls, and what Jesus Christ has done and suffered for their salvation, and how our Saviour desires us to pray for sinners--how is it possible, I say, that he should be able to look with indifference on the numbers of poor souls who are living without God, and are slaves of hell, without being moved to importune God with frequent prayers to give light and strength to those wretched beings, so that they may rise from the miserable state of perdition in which they are slumbering? True it is that God has not promised to grant our requests when those for whom we pray put a positive impediment in the way of their conversion; but still, God of His goodness has often deigned, at the Prayer of His servants, to bring back the most blind and obstinate sinners to a state of salvation by means of extraordinary graces. Therefore let us never omit, when we say or hear Mass, when we receive Holy Communion, when we make our Meditation or the Visit to the Blessed Sacrament, to recommend poor sinners to God. And a learned author says that he who prays for others will find that his prayers for himself are heard much sooner. But this is a digression. Let us now return to the examination of the other conditions that St. Thomas lays down as necessary for the efficacy of Prayer.


The Second Condition assigned by the Saint is that we ask those favours which are necessary for salvation; because the promise annexed to Prayer was not made with reference to temporal favours, which are not necessary for the salvation of the soul. St. Augustine, explaining the words of the Gospel, whatever ye shall ask in my name, says that what is in any way detrimental to salvation is not asked in the Name of the Saviour. Sometimes, says the same Father, we seek some temporal favours, and God does not hear us; but He does not hear us because He loves us and wishes to be merciful to us. The physician knows better than the patient what is good for the sick man. The physician who loves his patient will not allow him to have those things that he sees would do him harm. Oh, how many, if they had been sick or poor would have escaped those sins which they commit in health and affluence! And, therefore when men ask God for health or riches, He often denies them because He loves them, knowing that these things would be to them an occasion of losing His grace, or at any rate of growing tepid in the spiritual life. Not that we mean to say that it is any defect to pray to God for the necessaries of this present life, so far as they are not inconsistent with our eternal salvation, as the Wise Man said: Give me only the necessaries of life (Prov. xxx. 8). Nor is it a defect, says St. Thomas, to have anxiety about such goods, if it is not inordinate. The defect consists in desiring and seeking these temporal goods, and in having an inordinate anxiety about them, as if they were our highest good. Therefore, when we ask of God these temporal favours, we ought always to ask them with resignation, and with the condition if they will be useful to our souls; and when we see that God does not grant them, let us be certain that He then denies them to us for the love He bears us, and because He sees that they would be injurious to the salvation of our souls.

It often happens that we pray God to deliver us from some dangerous temptation, and yet that God does not seem to hear us, but permits the temptation to continue troubling us. In such a case let us understand that God permits even this for our greater good. It is not temptation nor bad thoughts that separate us from God, but our consent to the evil. When a soul in temptation recommends itself to God, and by His aid resists, oh, how it then advances in perfection, and unites itself more closely to God! And this is the reason why God does not hear it. St. Paul earnestly prayed to be delivered from the temptation of impurity: There was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan to buffet me; for which thing thrice I besought the Lord that it might depart from me. But God answered him that it was enough to have His grace: My grace is sufficient for thee (2 Cor. xii. 7). So that even in temptation we ought to pray with resignation, saying: Lord, deliver me from this trouble, if it is expedient to deliver me; and if not at least give me help to resist. And here comes in what St. Bernard says, that when we beg any grace of God, He gives us either that which we ask or some other thing more useful to us. He often leaves us to be buffeted by the waves in order to try our faithfulness, and for our greater profit. He would seem to be deaf to our prayers. But no; let us be sure that God then really hears us, and secretly aids us, and strengthens us by His grace to resist all the assaults of our enemies. See how He Himself: assures us of this by the mouth of the Psalmist: Thou calledst upon me in affliction, and I delivered thee: I heard thee in the secret place of tempest; I proved thee at the waters of contradiction (Ps. lxxx. 8).

The other considerations assigned by St. Thomas to Prayer are, that it is to be made piously and perseveringly; by piously he means with humility and confidence --by perseveringly, continuing to pray until death. We must now speak distinctly of each of these three conditions which are the most necessary for Prayer, namely, of Humility, Confidence, and Perseverance.

Evening Meditation


"Charity hopeth all things"



I wish here to propose a doubt which may rise in the mind of one who loves God, and strives to conform himself in all things to His blessed will. If it should be ever revealed to such an one that he was to be eternally lost, would be obliged to bow to it with resignation in order to practise conformity with the will of God? St. Thomas says no; and further, that he would sin by consenting to it, because he would be consenting to live in a state that involves sin, and is contrary to the last end for which God created him; for God did not create souls to hate Him, but to love Him in Heaven: so that He does not wish the death even of the sinner, but that all should be converted and saved. The holy Doctor says that God wishes no one to be damned except through sin; and therefore, a person, by consenting to his damnation, would not be acting in conformity with the will of God, but with the will of sin. But suppose that God, foreseeing the sin of a person, should have decreed his damnation, and that this decree should be revealed to him, would he be bound to coincide in it? In the same passage the Saint says, by no means; because such a revelation must not be taken as an irrevocable decree, but made merely by way of communication, as a threat of what would follow if he persists in sin.


But let every one banish such baneful thoughts from his mind, as only calculated to cool his confidence and love. Let us love Jesus Christ as much as possible here below; let us always be sighing to go hence, and to behold Him in Paradise, that we may there love Him perfectly; let us make it the grand object of all our hopes to go thither to love Him with all our strength. We are commanded even in this life to love God with our whole strength: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength (Luke x. 27); but the angelical Doctor says that man cannot perfectly fulfil this precept upon earth; only Jesus Christ, Who was both God and Man, and the most holy Mary, who was full of grace and free from Original sin, perfectly fulfilled it. But we miserable children of Adam, infected as we are with sin, cannot love God without some imperfection; and it is in Heaven alone, when we shall meet God face to face, that we shall love Him, nay more, that we shall be necessitated to love Him with all our strength.
Tuesday–Seventh Week after Pentecost

Morning Meditation


A cold sweat spreads itself over the sick man; his eyes grow dim; his pulse intermittent; his extremities become cold and he is stretched out on his bed like a corpse. He is now rapidly passing into Eternity.

O moment of death, upon which will depend an Eternity of happiness, or an Eternity of woe!


A cold sweat spreads itself over the sick man, his eyes become dim, his pulse intermittent, his extremities become cold, he stretches himself out like a corpse, and his agony begins. He is already rapidly passing into Eternity.

His breath fails, the breathing is scarcely noticeable, and death is at hand. The priest lights a blessed candle and places it in his hand, and begins to repeat for him acts suitable for the soul’s immediate departure. O light, enlighten now our souls, for then thou wilt be of but little service to us when the time has gone for repairing the evil we have done!

O God, how guilty will our offences, and how empty will the vanities of this world appear in the light of the last candle!

The dying man expires; and in the same moment in which he breathes his last, time for him is ended, and Eternity begins. O moment which will decide an Eternity of happiness or an Eternity of woe!

O Jesus, mercy! Pardon me and so unite me to Thee that I may not at my last moment be able to lose Thee forever.

The soul being departed, the priest says to the bystanders: He is dead! Yes, he is dead–Requiescat in pace! May he rest in peace! He rests in peace if he has died in peace with God; but if not, he will never enjoy peace so long as God shall be God.

As soon as he is dead the news spreads around. One says: He was an honest man, but not very devout. Another: I wonder is he saved? His relatives and friends, to save their feelings, will not hear him spoken of, and wish those who mention him to speak of something else!

Thus, he who was the centre of conversation has become an object of horror for all. Go into his house, he is no longer there. His rooms, his bed, his furniture, are divided amongst others. And where is he? His body is in the grave, his soul in Eternity!


If you wish to see the dead man, open that grave; he is no longer in the bloom of health, no longer feasting, but a heap of corruption, in which are engendered multitudes of worms. These will soon eat away the lips and the cheeks, so that in a little while nothing more will remain but a fetid skeleton, which, in time, will fall to pieces, the head from the trunk, and the bones from one another.

See, then, to what it will one day be reduced, this body of ours, on account of which we so often offend God!

O Saints of God, you remembered this, and kept your bodies in subjection by mortification! Now your bones are venerated upon altars, and your souls are enjoying the sight of God, waiting for the day of final reward when your bodies will become your companions in glory, as they were formerly your companions in suffering.

Were I now in Eternity, what should I not wish to have done for God?

St. Camillus of Lellis, looking on the graves of the dead, was accustomed to say: “Oh, if these were alive, what would they not now do for eternal life? And I who am alive, what am I doing?”

O Lord, do not cast me away with the reprobate on account of my ingratitude! Others have offended Thee in the midst of darkness and ignorance, but I have offended Thee in the midst of light. Thou didst fully enlighten me to know the wrong I did in committing sin; and yet I closed my eyes to Thy lights, trampled on Thy graces, and turned my back upon Thee. Be not thou a terror unto me: Thou art my hope in the day of affliction (Jer. xvii. 17).

Spiritual Reading




The Lord does not indeed regard the prayers of His servants, but only of His servants who are humble. He hath had regard to the prayer of the humble (Ps. ci. 18). Others he does not regard, but rejects them: God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble (James iv. 6). He does not hear the prayers of the proud who trust in their own strength; but for that reason leaves them to their own feebleness; and in this state, deprived of God’s aid, they must certainly perish. David had thus to lament: Before I was humbled I offended (Ps. cxviii. 67). I sinned because I was not humble. The same thing happened to St. Peter, who, though he was warned by our Lord that all the disciples would abandon Him on that night–All you shall be scandalised in me this night (Matt. xxvi. 31)–nevertheless, instead of acknowledging his own weakness, and begging our Lord’s aid against his unfaithfulness, was too confident in his own strength, and said that though all should abandon Him he would never leave Him: Although all shall be scandalised in thee, I, will never be scandalised (Matt. xxvi. 33). And although our Saviour again foretold to him, in a special manner, that in that very night, before the cock-crow, he should deny Him three times; yet, trusting in his own courage, he boasted, saying, Yea, though I should die with thee, I will not deny thee (Matt. xxvi. 35). But what was the result? Scarcely had the unhappy man entered the house of the High Priest when he was accused of being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and three times did he deny with an oath that he had ever known Him: And again he denied with an oath, I know not the man (Matt. xxvi. 72). If Peter had humbled himself and had asked our Lord for the grace of constancy, he would not have denied Him.

We ought all to feel that we are standing on the edge of a precipice, suspended over the abyss of all our sins, and supported only by the thread of God’s grace. If this thread fails us, we shall certainly fall into the gulf, and shall commit the most horrible wickedness. Unless the Lord had been my helper, my soul had almost dwelt in hell (Ps. xciii. 17). If God had not succoured me I should have fallen into a thousand sins and now I should be in hell. So said the Psalmist, and so ought each of us to say. This is what St. Francis of Assisi meant when he said that he was the worst sinner in the world. But, my Father, said his companion, what you say is not true; there are many in the world who are certainly worse than you are. Yes, what I say is but too true, answered St. Francis, because if God did not keep His hand over me, I should commit every possible sin.

It is of Faith, that without the aid of grace we cannot do any good work, nor even think a good thought. “Without grace men can do no good whatever, either in thought or in deed,” says St. Augustine. As the eye cannot see without light, so, says the holy Father, man can do no good without grace. The Apostle had said the same thing before him: Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God (2 Cor. iii. 5). And David had said it before St. Paul: Unless the Lord build the house,they labour in vain that build it (Ps. cxxvi. 1). In vain does man weary himself to become a saint, unless God lends a helping hand: Unless the Lord keep the city, he watcheth in vain that keepeth (Ps. cxxvi. 1). If God does not preserve the soul from sins, in vain will it try to preserve itself by its own strength: and therefore did the holy Prophet protest: I will not trust in my bow (Ps. xliii. 7). I will not trust in my arms, but only in God, Who alone can save me.

Hence, whoever finds that he has done any good, and does not find that he has fallen into greater sins than those which are commonly committed, let him say with St. Paul: By the grace of God I am what I am (1 Cor. xv. 10); and for the same reason, he ought never to cease to be afraid of falling in every occasion of sin: Wherefore, he that thinketh himself to stand, let him take heed lest he fall (1 Cor. x. 12). St. Paul wishes to warn us that he who feels himself secure of not falling is in great danger of falling; and he assigns the reason in another place, where he says: If any man think himself to be something, whereas he is nothing, he deceiveth himself (Gal. vi. 3). So that St. Augustine wrote wisely, the presumption of stability renders many unstable; no one will be so firm as he who feels himself infirm. If a man says he has no fear, it is a sign that he trusts in himself, and in his good resolutions; but such a man, with his pernicious self-confidence, deceives himself, because, through trust in his own strength he neglects to fear; and through not fearing he neglects to recommend himself to God, and thus he will certainly fall. And so, for like reasons, we should all abstain from noticing with any vain-glory the sins of our neighbours; but rather we should esteem ourselves as worse in ourselves than they are, and should say: Lord, if thou hadst not helped me, I should have done worse. Otherwise, to punish us for our pride, God will permit us to fall into worse and more shameful sins. For this cause St. Paul instructs us to labour for our salvation: With fear and trembling work out your salvation (Philip. ii. 12). Yes; for he who has a great fear of falling distrusts his own strength, and therefore places his confidence in the Lord, and has recourse to Him in dangers; and God will aid him, and so he will vanquish his temptations, and will be saved. St. Philip Neri, walking one day through Rome, kept saying: “I am in despair!” A certain Religious rebuked him, and the Saint thereupon said: “My father, I am in despair of myself; but I trust in God“. So must we do, if we would be saved; we must always live in despair of doing anything by our own strength; and in so doing we shall imitate St. Philip, who used to say to God the first moment he awoke in the morning: “Lord, keep Thy hands over Philip this day; for if not, Philip will betray Thee.”

This then, we may conclude with St. Augustine, is all the grand science of a Christian–to know that he is nothing, and can do nothing. “This is all knowledge, to know that man is nothing.” For then he will never neglect to furnish himself, by Prayer to God, with that strength which he has not of himself and which he needs in order to resist temptation, and to do good. Thus, with the help of God, Who never refuses anything to the man who prays to Him in humility, he will be able to do all things: The prayer of him that humbleth himself shall pierce the clouds, and he will not depart until the Most High behold (Ecclus. xxxv. 21). The prayer of a humble soul penetrates the heavens and presents itself before the throne of God, and departs not without God’s looking on it and hearing it. And though the soul be guilty of any number of sins, God never despises a heart that humbles itself: A contrite and humbled heart, O God, thou wilt not despise (Ps. 1. 19): God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble (James iv. 6). As the Lord is severe with the proud, and resists their prayers, so He is kind and liberal to the humble. This is precisely what Jesus Christ said one day to St. Catherine of Sienna: Know, my daughter, that a soul that perseveres in humble Prayer gains every virtue.

It will be of use to introduce here the advice which the learned and pious Palafox, Bishop of Osma, gives to spiritual persons who desire to become Saints. It occurs in a note to the 18th Letter of St. Teresa, which she wrote to her confessor, to give him an account of all the grades of supernatural prayer with which God had favoured her. On this the Bishop writes that these supernatural graces which God deigned to grant to St. Teresa, as He had also done to other Saints, are not necessary in order to arrive at sanctity, since many souls have become Saints without them; and, on the other hand, many who had received them have, after all, been damned. Therefore he says it is superfluous, and even presumptuous, to desire and to ask for these supernatural gifts, when the true and only way to become a Saint is to exercise ourselves in virtue and in the love of God; and this is done by means of Prayer, and by corresponding to the inspirations and assistance of God, Who wishes nothing so much as to see us Saints. For this is the will of God, your sancification (1 Thess. iv. 3).

Hence Bishop Palafox, speaking of the grades of supernatural Prayer mentioned in St. Teresa’s Letter, namely, the Prayer of Quiet, the Sleep or Suspension of the Faculties, the Prayer of Union, Ecstasy or Rapture, Flight and Impulse of the Spirit, and the Wound of Love, says, very wisely, that as regards the Prayer of Quiet, what we ought to ask of God is that He would free us from attachment to earthly goods, and the desire of them, which give no peace, but bring disquiet and affliction to the soul: Vanity of vanities, as Solomon called them, and vexation of spirit (Eccles. i. 2, 14). The heart of man will never find true peace if it does not empty itself of all that is not God, so as to leave itself all free for His love, that He alone may possess the whole of it. But this the soul cannot do of itself; it must obtain it of God by repeated prayers. As regards the Sleep and Suspension of the Faculties, we ought to ask God for grace to keep them asleep to all that is temporal, and only awake to consider God’s goodness and to set our hearts upon His love and eternal happiness, As regards the Union of the Faculties, let us pray Him to give us grace not to think, nor to seek, nor to wish anything but what God wills; since all sanctity and the perfection of love consists in uniting our will to the will of God. As regards Ecstasy and Rapture, let us pray God to draw us away from the inordinate love of ourselves and of creatures, and to draw us entirely to Himself. As regards the Flight of the Spirit, let us pray Him to give us grace to live altogether detached from this world, and to be as the swallows, that do not settle on the ground even to feed, but take their food flying. So should we use our temporal goods, but only as is necessary for the support of life, but always flying, without settling on the ground to look for earthly pleasures. As regards Impulse of Spirit, let us pray Him to give us courage and strength to do violence to ourselves, whenever it is necessary for resisting the assaults of our enemies, for conquering our passions, and for accepting sufferings even in the midst of desolation and dryness of spirit. Finally, as regards the Wound of Love, as a wound by its pain perpetually renews the remembrance of what we suffer, so ought we to pray God to wound our hearts with His holy love in such a way that we shall always be reminded of His goodness and of the love which He has borne us; and thus we should live in continual love of Him, and should be always pleasing Him with our works and our affections. But none of these graces can be obtained without Prayer; while with Prayer, provided it be humble, confident, and persevering, everything is obtained.

Evening Meditation


“Charity hopeth all things”



Behold, then, the scope of all our desires and aspirations, of all our thoughts and ardent hopes; to go and enjoy God in Heaven, in order to love Him with all our strength, and to rejoice in the enjoyment of God. The Blessed certainly rejoice in their own felicity in that kingdom of delights; but the chief source of their happiness, and that which absorbs all the rest, is to know that their beloved Lord possesses an infinite happiness; for they love God incomparably more than themselves. Each one of the Blessed has such a love for Him that he would willingly forfeit all happiness, and undergo the most cruel torments, rather than that God should lose, if it were possible for Him to lose, even the least particle of His happiness. Hence the sight of God’s infinite happiness, and the knowledge that it can never suffer diminution for all eternity, constitutes his Paradise. This is the meaning of what our Lord says to every soul on whom He bestows the possession of eternal glory: Enter into the joy of thy Lord (Matt. xxv. 21). It is not the joy that enters into the blessed soul, but the soul that enters into the joy of God, since the joy of God is the object of the joy of the Blessed. Thus the good of God will be the good of the Blessed; the riches of God will be their riches, and the happiness of God will be their happiness.


In the instant that a soul enters Heaven, and sees by the light of glory the infinite beauty of God face to face, she is at once seized and all consumed with love. The happy soul is then as it were lost and immersed in that boundless ocean of the goodness of God. Then it is that she quite forgets herself, and, inebriated with Divine love, thinks only of loving her God: They shall be inebriated with the plenty of thy house (Ps. xxxv. 9). As one intoxicated no longer thinks of himself, so a soul in bliss can only think of loving and affording delight to her beloved Lord; she desires to possess Him entirely, and she does in fact possess Him, without fear of losing Him any more; she desires to give herself wholly to Him at every moment, and every moment she offers herself to God without reserve, and God receives her in His loving embraces, and so holds her, and shall hold her in the same fond embraces for all eternity.
Wednesday–Seventh Week after Pentecost

Morning Meditation


Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. That word–Proficiscere! Depart!–which brings such terror to worldlings alarms not the just. To them it is not painful to leave all earthly goods, for God has been their only Treasure; nor honours, for they always despised them; nor friends and relatives, for they loved them only in God.


Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints (Ps. cxv. 15). St. Bernard says that the death of the just is called precious because it is the end of labour and the gate of life. To the Saints death is a reward, because it is the end of sufferings, pains, struggles, and the fear of losing God.

That word Proficiscere! Depart!–which brings such terror to worldlings, alarms not the just. To them it is not painful to leave all worldly goods, for God has been their only Treasure: nor honours, for they always despised them: nor relatives, for they have loved them only in God. Hence, as they frequently repeated in life, so now with redoubled joy do they exclaim in death, My God and my All!

Nor do the pains of death afflict them; they rejoice in offering to God the last moments of life in testimony of their love for Him, uniting the sacrifice of their lives to the sacrifice Jesus Christ offered of His life on the Cross for the love of them.

Oh, what a consolation for the Saints is the thought that now the time is over when they could have offended God, and were in constant danger of losing Him! Oh, what joy to be able then to embrace the Crucifix, and to say: In peace, in the self same, I will sleep and I will rest! (Ps. iv. 9).

The devil will endeavour at that time to disquiet us by the sight of our sins; but if we have wept for them, and have loved Jesus Christ with our whole heart, Jesus will console us. God is more desirous for our salvation than the devil is for our perdition.


Moreover, death is the gate of life. God is faithful, and will indeed at that supreme moment console those who have loved Him. Even in the sorrows of death He will bestow upon them a foretaste of Heaven. In the acts of confidence, of love of God, in the desire soon to behold Him, they will begin to taste that peace which they will enjoy throughout Eternity. What joy, in particular, will the Holy Viaticum afford to those who can say, with St. Philip Neri: “Behold my Love! Behold my Love!”

We should therefore fear not death but sin, which alone makes death so terrible. A great servant of God, Father Colombiere, said: “It is morally impossible for one who in life has been faithful to God to die an unhappy death.”

He who loves God desires death, which will unite him eternally to God. It is a sign of but little love for God not to desire soon to behold Him.

Let us, therefore, now accept death and the loss of worldly things. We may do this now meritoriously, but then, it must be done forcibly and with danger of being lost. Let us live as though every day were to be the last of our lives. Oh, how well does he live who lives with the remembrance of death ever present to his mind!

O my God, when will the day arrive in which I shall see Thee and love Thee face to face? I do not deserve it; but Thy Wounds, O my Redeemer, are my hope. I will say to Thee with St. Bernard: Thy wounds are my merits. And hence I will have confidence, and will also say to Thee with St. Augustine: O that I may die, Lord, that I may behold Thee! O Mary, my Mother, in the Blood of Jesus Christ, and in thy holy intercession, do I hope to be saved, and to go to praise thee, thank thee, and love thee for ever in Heaven!

Spiritual Reading


The principal instruction that St. James gives us, if we wish by Prayer to obtain grace from God, is that we pray with a confidence that feels sure of being heard, and without hesitating: Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering (James i. 6). St. Thomas teaches that as Prayer receives its power of meriting from Charity, so it receives from Faith and Confidence its power of being efficacious to obtain. St. Bernard teaches the same, saying that it is our confidence alone which obtains for us the Divine mercies. God is much pleased with our confidence in His mercy, because we then honour and exalt that infinite Goodness which it was His object in creating us to manifest to the world: Let all those, O my God, says the Royal Prophet, who hope in thee be glad, for they shall be eternally happy, and Thou shalt dwell in them (Ps. v. 12). God protects and saves all those who confide in Him: He is the protector of all that hope in him (Ps. xvii. 31). Thou who savest them that trust in thee (Ps. xvi. 7). Oh, the great promises that are recorded in the Scriptures to all those who hope in God! He who hopes in God will not fall into sin: None of them that trust in him shall offend (Ps. xxxiii. 23). Yes, says David, because God has His eyes turned to all those who confide in His Goodness to deliver them by His aid from the death of sin. Behold, the eyes of the Lord are on them that fear him, and on them that hope for his mercy to deliver their souls from death (Ps. xxxii. 18). And in another place God Himself says: Because he hoped in me I will deliver him; I will deliver him and I will glorify him (Ps. xc. 14). Mark the word because. Because he confided in Me, I will protect, I will deliver him from his enemies, and from the danger of falling; and finally I will give him eternal glory. Isaias says of those who place their hope in God: They that hope in the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall take wings as the eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint (Is. xl. 31). They shall cease to be weak as they are now, and shall gain from God a great strength; they shall not faint; they shall not even feel weary in walking the way of salvation, but they shall run and fly as eagles; in silence and in hope shall your strength be (Is. xxx. 15). All our strength, the Prophet tells us, consists in placing all our confidence in God, and in being silent; that is, in reposing in the arms of His Mercy, without trusting to our own efforts, or to human means.

And when did it ever happen that a man had confidence in God and was lost? No one hath hoped in the Lord and hath been confounded (Ecclus. 11). It was this confidence that assured David that he would not perish: In thee, O Lord, have I trusted; I shall not be confounded forever (Ps. xxx. 2). Perhaps, then, says St. Augustine, God could be a deceiver, Who offers to support us in dangers if we lean upon Him, and then withdraws Himself if we have recourse to Him? “God is not a deceiver, that He should offer to support us, and then when we lean upon Him should slip away from us.” David calls the man happy who trusts in God: Blessed is the man that trusteth in thee (Ps. lxxxiii. 13). And why? Because, says he, he who trusts in God will always find himself surrounded by God’s Mercy. Mercy shall encompass him that hopeth in the Lord (Ps. xxxi. 10). So that he shall be surrounded and guarded by God on every side in such a way that he shall be prevented from losing his soul.

It is for this cause that the Apostle recommends us so earnestly to preserve our confidence in God; for (he tells us) it will certainly obtain from Him a great remuneration: Do not therefore lose your confidence, which hath a great reward (Heb. x. 35). As is our confidence, so shall be the graces we receive from God: if our confidence is great, great too will be the graces: “Great faith merits great things.” St Bernard writes that divine Mercy is an inexhaustible fountain, and that he who brings to it the largest vessel of confidence shall take from it the largest measure of gifts: “Neither, O Lord, dost Thou put the oil of mercy into any other vessel than that of confidence.” The Prophet had long before expressed the same thought: Let thy mercy, O Lord be upon us, as we have hoped in thee (Ps. xxxii. 22). This was well exemplified in the Centurion to whom our Saviour said, in praise of his confidence: Go and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee (Matt. viii. 13). And our Lord revealed to St. Gertrude that he who prays with confidence does Him in a manner such violence that He cannot but hear him in everything he asks. “Prayer,” says St. John Climacus, “does a pious violence to God.” It does Him a violence, but a violence which He likes, and which pleases Him.

Let us go, therefore, according to the admonition of St. Paul, with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid. (Heb. iv. 16). The throne of grace is Jesus Christ, Who is now sitting on the right hand of the Father; not on the throne of justice, but of grace, to obtain pardon for us all if we fall into sin, and help to enable us to persevere if we are enjoying His friendship. To this throne we must always have recourse with confidence; that is to say, with that trust which springs from faith in the goodness and truth of God, Who has promised to hear him who prays to Him with confidence, but with a confidence that is both sure and stable. On the other hand, says St. James, let not the man who prays with hesitation think that he will receive anything: For he who wavereth is like a wave of the sea which is moved and carried about by the wind. Therefore let not that man think he shall receive anything of the Lord (James i. 6). He will receive nothing, because the diffidence which agitates him is unjust towards God, and will hinder His Mercy from listening to his prayers: “Thou hast not asked rightly, because thou hast asked doubtingly,” says St. Basil; thou hast not received grace, because thou hast asked it without confidence. David says that our confidence in God ought to be as firm as a mountain, that is, not moved by every gust of wind: They who trust in the Lord, shall be as Mount Sion; he shall not be moved forever (Ps. cxxiv. 1). And it is this that Our Lord recommends to us, if we wish to obtain the graces which we ask: Whatsoever you ask when you pray, believe that you shall receive, and they shall come unto you (Mark xi. 24). Whatever grace you require, be sure that it will be given to you, and so you shall obtain it.

Evening Meditation


“Charity hopeth all things”



In this manner the soul is wholly united to God in Heaven, and loves Him with all her strength; her love is most perfect and complete, and though necessarily finite, since a creature is not capable of infinite love, it nevertheless renders her perfectly happy and contented, so that she desires nothing more. On the other hand, Almighty God communicates Himself, and unites Himself wholly to the soul, filling her with Himself proportionately to her merits; and this union is not merely by means only of His gifts, lights, and loving attractions, as is the case during the present life, but by His own very Essence. As fire penetrates iron, and seems to change it into itself, so does God penetrate the soul and fill her with Himself; and though she never loses her own being, yet she becomes so penetrated and absorbed by that immense ocean of the Divine substance that she remains, as it were, annihilated, and as if she ceased to exist. The Apostle prayed for this happy lot for his disciples when he said: That you may be filled unto all the fullness of God (Eph. iii. 19).


And this is the end which the goodness of God has appointed for us in the life to come. Hence the soul can never enjoy perfect repose on earth; because it is only in Heaven that she can obtain perfect union with God. It is true that the lovers of Jesus Christ find peace in the practice of perfect conformity with the will of God; but they cannot in this life find complete repose. This is only obtained when our last end is obtained; that is, when we see God face to face, and are consumed with His Divine love; but until the soul has reached this end, she is ill at ease, and groans and sighs, saying: Behold, in peace is my bitterness most bitter (Ps. xxxviii. 17).
Morning Meditation

Picture to yourself the state to which you will be reduced when death comes, and you are in your last agony, and scarcely another hour of life remains. You are about to appear before your Judge, Jesus Christ, to give an account of your whole life. Nothing in that hour will alarm you so much as a bad conscience. Put your accounts in order, therefore, before the coming of that great accounting day.


Picture to yourself the state to which you will be reduced when death comes, and you are in your last agony, and scarcely another hour of life remains. You are about to appear before your Judge, Jesus Christ, to give an account of your whole life. Nothing in that hour will alarm you so much as a bad conscience. Put your accounts in order, therefore, before the coming of that great accounting day.

When you are on the point of entering into Eternity, remorse for past sins, diffidence, increased by the suggestions of the devil, and uncertainty as to your future lot --oh, how all this will cast the soul into a tempest of confusion and fear! Let us therefore now unite ourselves to Jesus Christ, and to Mary, that at that decisive moment they may not abandon us.

How terrified shall we be at the thought that in a few moments we shall be judged by Jesus Christ! St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi, being ill, was asked by her director why she trembled, and she answered: "How terrible is the thought of having to appear before Christ as our Judge!"

O Jesus, remember that I am one of those whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy Blood. We beseech thee, therefore, help Thy servants, whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood!

It is the common opinion among divines that in the same place and at the very moment in which the soul departs it is judged by Jesus Christ. So that at one and the same moment the trial is gone through and the sentence passed and put into execution.

O fatal moment, in which the lot of each one is decided for a happy or a miserable Eternity!

The Venerable Father da Ponte, when he considered the Judgment, trembled to such a degree as to shake the room in which he was.

O Jesus, if Thou wert to judge me now, what would become of me? Eternal Father, look upon the face of thy Christ (Ps. lxxxiii. 10). I sincerely repent of all the sins I have committed against Thee; look on the Blood, the Wounds of Thy Son, and have pity on me.


The soul goes forth and leaves the body, but sometimes it is still doubtful whether the person is alive or dead. The soul enters Eternity. The priest sprinkles the corpse with holy water and repeats the prayer of the Church: "Come to his assistance, all ye Saints of God meet him, ye Angels of the Lord." But if the soul be lost, the Saints and Angels can no longer assist it.

Jesus will come to judge us appearing with the same Wounds that He received for us in His Passion. These Wounds will be a source of great consolation to penitents, who with sorrow shall have bewailed their sins during life, but will be a source of great terror to sinners who shall have died in their sins.

O God, what anguish for a man to behold Jesus for the first time, and as his indignant Judge! It will be more terrible than hell itself.

Man will then behold the majesty of the Judge; he will see how much He suffered for his love; he will see God's many mercies towards him, the many and great means He afforded him of working out his salvation; he will see the vanity of all worldly things, and the greatness of those which are eternal; he will see, in a word, all these truths, but--too late! Then there will be no more time to repair past errors. What is done is done.

My beloved Redeemer, grant that when I first behold Thee, I may find Thee appeased; and for this end give me now light and strength to reform my life. I desire to love Thee always. If hitherto I have despised Thy graces, I now esteem them above all the kingdoms of the world.

Spiritual Reading



But, some one will say, on what am I, a miserable sinner, to found this certain confidence of obtaining what I ask? On what? On the promise made by Jesus Christ: Ask, and you shall receive (Jo. xvi. 24). "Who will fear to be deceived, when the Truth promises?" says St. Augustine. How can we doubt that we shall be heard, when God, Who is Truth itself, promises to give us that which we ask of Him in Prayer? "We should not be exhorted to ask," says the same Father, "unless He meant to give." This is the very thing to which He exhorts us so strongly, and which is repeated so often in the Scriptures--pray, ask, seek, and you shall obtain what you desire: You shall ask whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you (Jo. xv. 7). And in order that we may pray to Him with due confidence our Saviour has taught us, in the "Our Father," that when we have recourse to Him for the graces necessary for salvation (all of which are included in the Petitions of the Lord's Prayer) we should call Him, not Lord, but Father--Our Father--because it is His will that we should ask God for grace with the same confidence with which a son, when in want, or sick, asks food or medicine from his own father. If a son is suffering hunger, he has only to make his case known to his father and his father will forthwith provide him with food; and if he has received a bite from a venomous serpent, he has only to show his father the wound, and the father will immediately apply whatever remedy he has.

Trusting, therefore, in God's promises, let us always pray with confidence; not vacillating, but stable and firm, as the Apostle says: Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering: for he is faithful that hath promised (Heb. x. 23). As it is perfectly certain that God is faithful to His promises, so ought our confidence also be perfectly certain that He will hear us when we pray. And although sometimes, when we are in a state of aridity, or disturbed by some fault we have committed, we perhaps do not feel while praying that sensible confidence which we would wish to experience, yet, for all this, let us force ourselves to pray, and to pray without ceasing, for God will not refuse us. Nay, rather He will hear us more readily, because we shall then pray with more distrust of ourselves, and confiding only in the goodness and faithfulness of God, Who has promised to hear the man who prays to Him. Oh, how God is pleased in the time of our tribulations, of our fears, and of our temptations to see us hope against hope; that is, in spite of the feeling of diffidence which we then experience because of our desolation! This is what the Apostle praised in the Patriarch Abraham, who against hope believed in hope (Rom. iv. 18).

St. John says that he who reposes a firm trust in God will certainly become a saint: And every one that hath this hope in him sanctifieth himself, as he also is holy (1 Jo. iii. 3). For God gives abundant graces to them that trust in Him. By this confidence it was that so many Martyrs and Virgins, and even children, in spite of the dread of the torments which, their persecutors prepared for them, overcame both their tortures and their persecutors.

Sometimes, I say, we pray, but it seems to us that God will not hear us. Ah! let us not then neglect to persevere in Prayer and to hope; let us then say with Job: Although he should kill me, I will trust in him (Job xiii. 15). O my God! though Thou shouldst drive me from Thy presence, I will not cease to pray, and to hope in Thy Mercy. Let us do so, and we shall obtain what we want from God. So did the Canaanitish woman, and she obtained all that she wished from Jesus Christ. This woman had a daughter possessed of a devil, and prayed our Saviour to deliver her: Have mercy on me, my daughter is grievously tormented by a devil (Matt. xv. 22). Our Lord answered her that He was not sent for the Gentiles, of whom she was one, but for the Jews. She, however, did not lose heart, but renewed her prayer with confidence: Lord, Thou canst console me Thou must console me. Lord help me! (Matt. xv. 25). Jesus answered: It is not good to take the children's bread and to cast it to the dogs. (Matt. xv. 26). But she replied: Yea, Lord; for even the whelps eat of the crumbs that fall from the table of their masters (Matt. xv. 27). Then our Saviour, seeing the great confidence of this woman, praised her, and did what she asked, saying: O woman, great is thy faith; be it done to thee as thou wilt (Matt. xv. 28). For who, says Ecclesiasticus has ever called on God for aid, and has been neglected and left unaided by Him? Or who hath called upon him and he hath despised him? (Ecclus. ii. 12).

St. Augustine says that Prayer is a key which opens heaven to us; the same moment in which our Prayer ascends to God, the grace which we ask for descends to us: "The Prayer of the just is the key of heaven; the petition ascends, and the mercy of God descends." The royal Prophet says that our supplications and God's Mercy are united together: Blessed be God, who has not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me (Ps. lxv. 20. And hence the same St. Augustine says that when we are praying to God we ought to be certain that God is listening to us "When you see that your prayer is not removed from you, be sure that His Mercy is not removed from you." And for myself, I speak the truth, I never feel greater consolation nor a greater confidence of my salvation than when I am praying to God, and recommending myself to Him. And I think that the same thing happens to all other believers. All the other signs of our salvation are uncertain and unstable, but that God hears the man who prays to Him with confidence is an infallible truth, as it is infallible that God cannot fail in His promises.

When we find ourselves weak and unable to overcome any passion, or any great difficulty in fulfilling that which God requires of us, let us take courage and say, with the Apostle: I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me (Philip. iv. 13). Let us not say, as some do: I cannot; I distrust myself. With our own strength certainly we can do nothing; but with God's help we can do everything. If God said to some one: Take this mountain on your shoulders and carry it, for I am helping you, would not the man be a fool or impious if he answered: I will not take it, for I have not strength to carry it? And thus, when we know how miserable and weak we are and when we find ourselves most encompassed with temptations, let us not lose heart, but let us lift up our eyes to God, and say, with David: The Lord is my helper; and I will despise my enemies. (Ps. cxvii. 7). With the help of my Lord, I shall overcome and laugh to scorn all the assaults of my foes. And when we find ourselves in danger of offending God, or in any other critical position, and are too confused to know what is best to be done, let us recommend ourselves to God, saying: The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? (Ps. xxvi. 1). And let us be sure that God will then certainly give us light, and will save us from every evil.

Evening Meditation


"Charity hopeth all things"



Yes, O my God, I live in peace in this valley of tears, because such is Thy will; but I cannot help feeling unspeakable bitterness at finding myself at a distance from Thee, and not yet perfectly united with Thee, Who art my centre, my All, and the fulness of my repose! For this reason the Saints, though they were all inflamed with the love of God, did nothing but sigh after Paradise. David cried out: Woe is me, that my sojourning is prolonged! (Ps. cxiv. 5). I shall be satisfied when thy glory shall appear (Ps. xvi. 15). St. Paul said of himself: Having a desire to be with Christ (Phil. i. 23). St. Francis of Assisi said:

"I look for such a meed of bliss That all my pain seems happiness."

These were all so many acts of perfect Charity. The angelic Doctor teaches us that the highest degree of Charity which a soul can reach upon this earth is to desire intensely to go and be united with God, and to enjoy Him in Heaven. But, as we have already seen, this enjoyment of God in Heaven does not consist so much in the fruition of the delights there lavished on her by Almighty God, as in the pleasure she takes in the happiness of God Himself Whom she loves incomparably more than herself.

O God, my Creator and my Redeemer, Thou hast created me for Heaven; Thou hast redeemed me from hell to bring me into Heaven; and I have so many times, in Thy very face, renounced my claim to Heaven by my sins, and have remained contented in seeing myself doomed to hell! But blessed for ever be Thy infinite mercy, which, I hope, has pardoned me, and many a time rescued me from perdition. Ah, my Jesus, would that I had never offended Thee! Would that I had always loved Thee! I rejoice that at least I have still time to do so. I love Thee! O Love of my soul, I love Thee with my whole heart; I love Thee more than myself! I see plainly that Thou wishest to save me, that I may be able to love Thee for all eternity in that kingdom of love. I thank Thee, and beseech Thee to help me for the remainder of my life, in which I wish to love Thee most ardently, that I may ardently love Thee in eternity.


The Holy Souls in Purgatory feel no pain more acutely than that of their yearning to possess God, from Whom they remain still at a distance. And this sort of pain will afflict those especially who in their lifetime had but little desire of Paradise. Blessed Cardinal Bellarmine also says that there is a certain place in Purgatory called career honoratus, or prison of honour, where certain souls are not tormented with any pains of sense, but merely with the pain of privation of the sight of God. Examples of this are related by St. Gregory, Venerable Bede, St. Vincent Ferrar, and St. Bridget; and this punishment is not for the commission of sin, but for coldness in desiring Heaven. Many souls aspire to perfection, but for the rest, they are very indifferent whether they go to enjoy the sight of God or continue on earth. But eternal life is an inestimable good that has been purchased by the death of Jesus Christ; and God punishes such souls as have been remiss during life in their desires to obtain it.

Ah, my Jesus, when will the day arrive that shall free me from all danger of losing Thee, and consume me with love, by unveiling before my eyes Thy infinite beauty, so that I shall be under the necessity of loving Thee? Oh, sweet necessity! Oh, happy and dear and most desired necessity, which shall relieve me from all fear of evermore displeasing Thee, and shall oblige me to love Thee with all my strength! My conscience alarms me, and says: "How canst thou presume to enter Heaven?" But, my dearest Redeemer, Thy merits are all my hope. O Mary, Queen of Heaven, thy intercession is all-powerful with God; in thee I put my trust!
Friday--Seventh Week after Pentecost

Morning Meditation


The Heart of Jesus is all pure, all holy, all full of love towards God and towards us. Every perfection, every virtue reigns in this Heart. This is the Heart in which God Himself finds all His delight. O amiable Heart of Jesus, Thou dost well deserve the love of all hearts.


He who shows himself amiable in everything must necessarily make himself loved. Oh, if we only applied ourselves to discover all the good qualities by which Jesus Christ renders Himself worthy of our love, we should all be under the happy necessity of loving Him. And what heart among all hearts can be found more worthy of love than the Heart of Jesus Christ? A Heart all pure, all holy, all full of love towards God and towards us; because all Its desires are for the Divine glory and our good. This is the Heart in which God finds all His delight. Every perfection, every virtue reigns in this Heart;--a most ardent love for God, His Father, united to the greatest humility and respect that can possibly exist; a sovereign confusion for our sins, which He has taken upon Himself, united to the extreme confidence of a most affectionate Son; a sovereign abhorrence of our sins, united to a lively compassion for our miseries; an extreme sorrow, united to a perfect conformity to the Will of God; so that in Jesus is found everything that is most amiable.

O my amiable Redeemer, what object more worthy of love could the Eternal Father command me to love than Thee? Thou art the Beauty of Paradise, Thou art the Love of Thy Father, Thy Heart is the throne of all virtues. O amiable Heart of my Jesus, Thou dost well deserve the love of all hearts; poor and wretched is that heart which loves Thee not! Thus miserable, O my God, has my heart been during all the time in which it has not loved Thee. But I will not continue to be thus wretched; I love Thee, I will always continue to love Thee, O my Jesus. O my Lord, I have hitherto forgotten Thee, and now what can I expect? That my ingratitude will oblige Thee to forget me entirely and forsake me forever? No, my Saviour, do not permit it. Thou art the object of the love of God; and shalt Thou not, then, be loved by a miserable sinner such as I am, who have been so favoured and loved by Thee? O lovely flames that burn in the amiable Heart of my Jesus, enkindle in my poor heart that holy fire which Jesus came down from Heaven to kindle on earth. Consume and destroy all the impure affections that dwell in my heart and prevent it from being entirely His.


Some are attracted to love others by their beauty, others by their innocence, others by living with them, others by devotion. But if there were a person in whom all these and other virtues were united, who could help loving him? If we heard that there was in a distant foreign country a prince who was handsome, humble, courteous, devout, full of charity, affable to all, who rendered good to those who did him evil; then, although we knew not who he was, and though he knew not us, and though we were not acquainted with him, nor was there any possibility of our ever being so, yet we should be enamoured of him, and should be constrained to love him. How is it, then, possible that Jesus Christ, Who possesses in Himself all these virtues, and in the most perfect degree, and Who loves us so tenderly, how is it possible that He should be so little loved by men, and should not be the only object of our love? O my God, how is it that Jesus, Who alone is worthy of love, and Who has given us so many proofs of the love that He bears us, should be alone, as it were, the unlucky One with us, Who cannot succeed in making us love Him; as if He were not sufficiently worthy of our love! This is what caused floods of tears to St. Rose of Lima, St. Catherine of Genoa, St. Teresa, St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi, who, on considering the ingratitude of men, exclaimed, weeping: "Love is not loved! Love is not loved!"

O my God, grant that I may exist only to love Thee, and Thee alone, my dearest Saviour! If at one time I despised Thee, Thou art now the only object of my love. I love Thee, I love Thee, I love Thee, and I will never love any but Thee! My beloved Lord, do not disdain to accept the love of a heart which has once afflicted Thee by its sins. Let it be Thy glory to exhibit to the Angels a heart now burning with the love of Thee, which hitherto shunned and despised Thee. Most holy Virgin Mary, my hope, do thou assist me, and beseech Jesus to make me, by His grace, all that He wishes me to be.

Spiritual Reading



But I am a sinner, you will say, and in the Scriptures I read: God doth not hear sinners (Jo. ix. 31). St. Thomas answers, with St. Augustine: "That is the word of a blind man not yet perfectly enlightened, and therefore it is not authoritative." Besides, St. Thomas adds, it is true of the petition which the sinner makes, "so far as he is a sinner," that is, when he asks from a desire of continuing to sin; as, for instance, if he were to ask assistance to enable him to take revenge on his enemy, or to execute any other bad intention. The same holds good for the sinner who prays God to save him, but has no desire to quit the state of sin. There are some unhappy persons who love the chains with which the devil keeps them bound like slaves. The prayers of such men are not heard by God, because they are rash and abominable. For what greater temerity can there be than for a man to ask favours of a prince whom he not only has often offended, but whom he intends to offend still more? And this is the meaning of the Holy Spirit, when He says that the Prayer of him who turns away his ears so as not to hear what God commands is destestable and odious to God: He who turneth away his ears from learning the law, his prayer shall be an abomination (Prov. xxviii. 9). To these people God says: You need not pray to Me, for I will turn My eyes from you, and will not hear you: When you stretch forth your hands, I will turn away my eyes from you; and when you multiply prayer, I will not hear (Is. i. 15). Such, precisely, was the prayer of the impious King Antiochus, who prayed to God, and made great promises, but insincerely, and with a heart obstinate in sin; the sole object of his Prayer being to escape the punishment that impended over him; therefore God did not hear his Prayer, but caused him to die devoured by worms: Then this wicked man prayed to the Lord, of whom he was not like to obtain mercy (2 Mach. ix. 13).

But there are others who sin through frailty, or by the violence of some great passion, and who groan under the yoke of the enemy, and desire to break the chains of death and to escape from their miserable slavery, and for this they ask the assistance of God--the Prayer of these, if it is persevering, will certainly be heard by God Who says: For every one that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth (Matt. vii. 8). "Every one, whether he be a just man or a sinner," says the Author of the Opus Imperfectum. And in St. Luke, our Lord, when speaking of the man who gave all the loaves he had to his friend, not so much on account of his friendship as because of the other's importunity, says: If he shall continue knocking, I say to you, although he will not rise and give him because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And so I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you (Luke xi. 8, 9). So that persevering Prayer obtains Mercy from God, even for those who are not His friends. "That which is not obtained through friendship," says St. Chrysostom, "is obtained by Prayer." He even says that Prayer is valued more by God than friendship: "Friendship is not of such avail with God as Prayer; that which is not effected by friendship is effected by Prayer." And St. Basil doubts not that even sinners obtain what they ask, if they persevere in praying: "Sinners obtain what they seek, if they seek perseveringly." St. Gregory says the same: "The sinner shall also cry, and his Prayer shall reach to God." So, likewise, St. Jerome, who says that even the sinner can call God his Father, if he prays to Him to receive him back as a son, after the example of the Prodigal Son, who called Him Father: Father, I have sinned (Luke xv. 21), even though he had not as yet been pardoned. And St. Augustine: "If God does not hear sinners, in vain would that Publican have said, God be merciful to me, a sinner" (Luke xviii. 13). But the Gospel assures us that the Publican did by his Prayer obtain forgiveness: This man went down into his house justified (Luke xviii. 14).

But St. Thomas, who examines this point more minutely than others, does not hesitate to affirm that even a sinner is heard if he prays; for though his Prayer is not meritorious, yet it has the power of impetration --that is, of obtaining what is asked; because impetration is not founded on God's justice, but on His goodness. "Merit," he says, "depends on justice; impetration, on grace." Thus did Daniel pray: Incline, O my God, thine ear and hear ... For it is not for our justifications do we present our prayers before thy face, but for the multitude of thy mercies (Dan. ix. 18). Therefore, when we pray, says St. Thomas, it is not necessary to be the friends of God in order to obtain the grace we ask for: "Prayer itself makes us of the family of God." Moreover, St. Bernard uses a beautiful explanation of this, saying that the Prayer of a sinner to escape from sin arises from the desire to return to the grace of God. Now this desire is a gift which is certainly given by no other than God Himself. "To what end, therefore," says St. Bernard, "would God give to a sinner this holy desire, unless He meant to hear him?" And indeed, in the Holy Scriptures themselves there are multitudes of instances of sinners who have been delivered from sin by Prayer. Thus was King Achab delivered; thus King Manasses; thus King Nabuchodonosor; and thus the good Thief. O wonderful thing, the mighty power of Prayer! Two sinners are dying on Calvary by the side of Jesus Christ: one, because he prays, Remember me, is saved! The other, because he does not pray is damned!

And, in fine, St. Chrysostom says, "No man has with sorrow asked favours from Him without obtaining what he wished." But why should we cite more authorities, and give more reasons to demonstrate this point, when Our Lord Himself says: Come to me, all you that labour and are burdened, and I will refresh you (Matt. xi. 28). The burdened, according to Saints Augustine, Jerome, and others, are sinners in general, who groan under the load of their sins, and who, if they have recourse to God, will surely, according to His promise, be refreshed and saved by His grace. Ah, we cannot desire to be pardoned so much as He longs to pardon us. "Thou dost not," says St. Chrysostom, "so much desire thy sins to be forgiven as He desires to forgive thy sins." And he goes on to say: "There is nothing which Prayer cannot obtain, though a man were guilty of a thousand sins, provided it be fervent and unremitting." And let us mark well the words of St. James: If any of you wanteth wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all abundantly, and upbraideth not (James i. 5). All those, therefore, who pray to God, are infallibly heard by Him, and receive grace in abundance: He giveth to all abundantly. But you should particularly remark the words which follow, and upbraideth not. This means that God does not do as men, who, when a person that has formerly done them an injury comes to ask a favour, immediately upbraid him with his offence. God does not do so to the man who prays, even though he were the greatest sinner in the world, when he asks for some grace conducive to his eternal salvation. Then He does not upbraid him with the offences he has committed; but, as though he had never displeased Him, He instantly receives him, He consoles him, He hears him, and enriches him with an abundance of His gifts. To crown all, our Saviour, in order to encourage us to pray says: Amen, amen, I say to you, if you ask the Father anything in my name, he will give it you (Jo. xvi. 23). As though He had said: Courage, O sinners, do not despair; do not let your sins turn you away from having recourse to My Father, and from hoping to be saved by Him if you desire it. You have not now any merits to obtain the graces which you ask for, for you only deserve to be punished; still do this: go to My Father in My Name, through My merits ask all the favours you want, and I promise and swear to you--Amen, amen, I say to you (which according to St. Augustine is a species of oath) that whatever you ask, My Father will grant. O God, what greater comfort can a sinner have after his fall than to know for certain that whatever he asks from God in the Name of Jesus Christ will be given to him!

I say all, but I mean only that which has reference to his eternal salvation, for with respect to temporal goods, we have already shown that God, even when asked, sometimes does not give them, because He sees that they would injure the soul. But so far as relates to spiritual goods, His promise to hear us is not conditional, but absolute; and therefore St. Augustine tells us that those things which God promises absolutely we should demand with absolute certainty of receiving. And how, says the Saint, can God ever deny us anything, when we ask Him for it with confidence? How much more does He not desire to dispense to us graces than we to receive them! "He is more willing to be munificent in His benefits to thee than thou art desirous to receive them."

St. Chrysostom says that the only time when God is angry with us is when we neglect to ask Him for His gifts: "He is only angry when we do not pray." And how can it ever happen that God will not hear a soul who asks Him for what is according to His own Heart? When the soul says to Him: Lord, I ask Thee not for goods of this world,--riches, pleasures, honours; I ask Thee only for Thy grace: deliver me from sin, grant me a good death, give me Paradise, give me Thy holy love (which is the grace which St. Francis de Sales says we should seek more than all others), give me resignation to Thy will; how is it possible that God should not hear? What petitions wilt Thou, O my God, ever hear, says St. Augustine, if Thou dost not hear those which are made after Thy own Heart? But, above all, our confidence ought to revive when we pray to God for spiritual graces, as Jesus Christ says: If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children,how much more will your Father from heaven give the good Spirit to them that ask him! (Luke xi. 13). If you, who are so attached to your own interests, so full of self-love, cannot refuse your children that which they ask, how much more will your heavenly Father, Who loves you better than any earthly father, grant you His spiritual goods when you pray for them!

Evening Meditation


"Charity endureth all things"


It is not the pains of poverty, of sickness, of dishonour and persecution which in this life most afflict souls that love God, but temptation and desolation of spirit. Whilst a soul is in the enjoyment of the loving presence of God, she is so far from grieving at all the afflictions and outrages of men that she is rather comforted by them, as they afford her an opportunity of showing God a token of her love; they serve, in short, as fuel to enkindle her love more and more. But to find herself solicited by temptations to forfeit the Divine grace, or in the hour of desolation to dread having already lost it --oh, these are torments too cruel to bear for one who loves Jesus Christ with all her heart! However, the same love supplies her with strength to endure all patiently, and to pursue the way of perfection, on which she has entered. And oh, what progress do those souls make by means of these trials which God is pleased to send them in order to prove their love!

Temptations are the most grievous trials that can happen to a soul that loves Jesus Christ; she accepts with resignation of every other evil, as calculated only to bind her in closer union with God; but temptations to commit sin would drive her, as we said above, to a separation from Jesus Christ, and on this account they are more intolerable to her than all other afflictions. We must know, however, that although no temptation to evil can ever come from God, but only from the devil or our own corrupt inclinations: For God is not a tempter of evils, and he tempteth no man (James i. 13); nevertheless, God does at times permit His most cherished souls to be the most grievously tempted. And in the first place, in order that from temptation the soul may better learn her own weakness, and the need she has of the Divine assistance not to fall. Whilst a soul is favoured with heavenly consolations, she feels as if she were able to vanquish every assault of the enemy, and to achieve every undertaking for the glory of God. But when she is strongly tempted, and is almost reeling on the edge of the precipice, and just ready to fall, then she becomes better acquainted with her own misery and with her inability to resist, if God does not come to her rescue. So it fared with St. Paul, who tells us that God had suffered him to be troubled with a temptation to sensual pleasure in order to keep him humble after the revelations with which God has favoured him: And lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me, there was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me (2 Cor. xii. 7).
Saturday--Seventh Week after Pentecost

Morning Meditation


One of the titles which is the most encouraging for poor sinners and under which the Church teaches us to invoke Mary, in the Litany of Loretto, is that of "Refuge of sinners." Therefore a devout author exhorts all sinners to take refuge under the mantle of Mary: "Fly, O Adam and Eve, and all you, their children, who have outraged God, fly and take refuge in the bosom of this good Mother, for know you not that she is your only city of refuge?"


In the first Chapter of the Book of Genesis we read that God made two great lights; a greater light to rule the day; a lesser light to rule the night (Gen. i. 16). Cardinal Hugo says that "Christ is the greater light to rule the just, and Mary the lesser to rule sinners"; meaning that the sun is a figure of Jesus Christ, Whose light is enjoyed by the just who live in the clear day of Divine grace; and that the moon is a figure of Mary, by whose means those who are in the night of sin are enlightened. Since Mary is this auspicious luminary, and is so for the benefit of poor sinners, should any one have been so unfortunate as to fall into the night of sin, what is he to do? Innocent III replies, "Whoever is in the night of sin, let him cast his eyes on the moon, let him implore Mary." Since he has lost the light of the sun of justice by losing the grace of God, let him turn to the moon, and beseech Mary; and she will certainly give him light to see the misery of his state, and strength to leave it without delay. St. Methodius says that "by the prayers of Mary well nigh countless sinners are converted."


One of the titles which is the most encouraging to poor sinners, and under which the Church teaches us to invoke Mary, in the Litany of Loretto, is that of "Refuge of Sinners." In Judea in ancient times there were cities of refuge in which criminals who fled there for protection were exempt from the punishments which they had deserved. Nowadays those cities are not so numerous; there is but one, and that is Mary, of whom the Psalmist says: Glorious things are said of thee, O city of God (Ps. lxxxvi. 3). But this city differs from the ancient ones in this respect--that in these ancient cities all kinds of criminals did not find refuge, nor was the protection extended to every class of crime; but under the mantle of Mary all sinners, without exception, find mercy for every sin that they may have committed, provided only that they go there to seek this protection. "I am the city of refuge," says St. John Damascene, in the name of our Queen, "to all who fly to me." And it is sufficient to have recourse to her, for whoever has the good fortune to enter this city need not speak to be saved. Assemble yourselves, and let us enter into the fenced city, and let us be silent there (Jer. viii. 14), to speak in the words of the Prophet Jeremias. This city, says Blessed Albert the Great, is the most holy Virgin fenced in with grace and glory. And let us be silent there, that is, continues an interpreter, "because we dare not invoke the Lord, whom we have offended, she will invoke and ask." For if we do not presume to ask our Lord to forgive us, it will suffice to enter this city and be silent, for Mary will speak and ask all we may require. And for this reason a devout author exhorts all sinners to take refuge under the mantle of Mary, exclaiming: "Fly, O Adam and Eve, and all you, their children, who have outraged God; fly, and take refuge in the bosom of this Good Mother; know you not that she is our only city of refuge?"--the only hope of sinners.

Spiritual Reading



Our Prayers, then, must be humble and confident; but this is not enough to obtain final perseverance, and thereby eternal life. Individual prayers will obtain the individual graces which they ask of God; but unless they are persevering, they will not obtain final perseverance, which, as it is the accumulation of many graces, requires many Prayers that are not to cease till death. The grace of salvation is not a single grace, but a chain of graces, all of which are at last linked with the grace of final perseverance. Now, to this chain of graces there ought to correspond another chain (as it were) of our prayers; if we, by neglecting to pray, break the chain of our prayers, the chain of graces will be broken too; and as it is by this that we have to obtain salvation, we shall not be saved.

It is true that we cannot merit final Perseverance as the Council of Trent teaches: "It cannot be had from any other source but from Him Who is able to confirm the man who is standing, that he may stand with perseverance." Nevertheless, says St. Augustine, this great gift of Perseverance can in a manner be merited by our prayers; that is, can be obtained by praying: "This gift, therefore, can be suppliantly merited (suppliciter emereri potest), that is, can be obtained by supplication." And Father Suarez adds that the man who prays infallibly obtains it. But to obtain it, and to save ourselves, says St. Thomas, a persevering and continual Prayer is necessary: "After Baptism continual Prayer is necessary to a man in order that he may enter Heaven." And before this our Saviour Himself had told us over and over again: We ought always to pray, and not to faint (Luke xviii. 1). Watch ye, therefore, praying at all times, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that are to come, and to stand before the Son of Man (Luke xxi. 36). The same had been previously said in the Old Testament: Let nothing hinder thee from praying always (Ecclus. xviii. 22). Bless God at all times, and desire him to direct thy ways (Tob. iv. 20). Hence the Apostle inculcated on his disciples never to neglect Prayer: Pray without ceasing (1 Thess. v. 17). Be instant in prayer, watching in it with thanksgiving (Col. iv. 2). I will, therefore, that men pray in every place (1 Tim. 8). God does indeed wish to give us Perseverance, says St. Nilus, but He will only give it to him who prays for it perseveringly: "He willeth to confer benefits on him who perseveres in prayer." Many sinners by the help of God's grace come to be converted, and to receive pardon. But then, because they neglect to ask for perseverance, they fall again, and lose all.

Nor is it enough, says Bellarmine, to ask the grace of Perseverance once, or a few times; we ought always to ask it, every day till our death, if we wish to obtain it: "It must be asked day by day, that it may be obtained day by day." He who asks it one day, obtains it for that one day; but if he does not ask it the next day, the next day he will fall.

And this is the lesson which our Lord wished to teach us in the Parable of the man who would not give the loaves to his friend who asked him for them, until he had become importunate in his demand: Although he will not rise and give him because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity, he will rise and give him as many as he needeth (Luke xi. 8). Now if this man, solely to deliver himself from the troublesome importunity of his friend, gave him even against his own will the loaves for which he asked, "how much more," says St. Augustine, "will the good God give, Who both commands us to ask, and is angry if we ask not!" God, then, does indeed wish to give us eternal life, and therein all graces; but He wishes also that we should never omit to ask Him for them, even to the extent of being troublesome. Cornelius a Lapide says on the text just quoted, "God wishes us to be persevering in Prayer to the extent of importunity." Men of the world cannot bear the importunate; but God not only bears with them, but wishes us to be importunate in praying to Him for graces, and especially for Perseverance. St. Gregory says that " God wills to be called upon, He wills to be forced, He wills to be conquered by importunity ... Happy violence, by which God is not offended, but appeased!"

So that to obtain Perseverance we must always recommend ourselves to God morning and night, at Meditation, at Mass, at Communion, at all times; especially in time of temptation, when we must keep repeating: Lord, help me! Lord, assist me! Keep Thy hand upon me; leave me not; have pity upon me! Is there anything easier than to say: Lord, help me, assist me! The Psalmist says: With me is prayer to the God of my life (Ps. 9). On which the Gloss is as follows: "A man may say, I cannot fast, I cannot give alms; but if he is told to pray, he dare not say I cannot." For there is nothing easier than to pray. But we must never cease praying; we must (so to speak) continually do violence to God, that He may assist us always--a violence which is delightful and dear to Him. This violence is agreeable to God," says Tertullian; and St. Jerome says that the more persevering and importunate our Prayers are, so much the more are they acceptable to God: "Prayer, even though it is importunate, is more acceptable."

Blesseth is the man that heareth me, and that watcheth daily at my gates (Prov. viii. 34). Happy is that man, says God, who listens to Me, and watches continually with holy prayers at the gates of My Mercy. And Isaias says: Blessed are all they that wait for him (Is. xxx. 18). Blessed are they who till the end wait (in Prayer) for their salvation from God. Therefore in the Gospel Jesus Christ exhorts us to pray; but how? Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you (Luke xi. 9). Would it not have been enough to have said, ask? Why add seek and knock? No, it was not superfluous to add them; for thereby our Saviour wished us to understand that we ought to do as the poor who go begging. If they do not receive the alms they ask, they do not cease asking; they return to ask again; and if the master of the house does not show himself any more, they set to work to knock at the door till they become troublesome. That is what God wishes us to do: to pray, and to pray again, and never leave off praying, that He would assist us and succour us, that He would enlighten us and strengthen us, and never allow us to forfeit His grace. The learned Lessius says that the man cannot be excused from mortal sin who does not pray when he is in sin, or in danger of death; or, again, if he neglects to pray for any notable time, as (he says) for one or two months, but this is not understood to refer to the time of temptations; because whoever finds himself assailed by any grievous temptation without doubt sins mortally if he does not have recourse to God at once, to ask for assistance to resist it; seeing that otherwise he places himself in a proximate, nay, in a certain occasion of sin.

But some one will say: Since God can give and wishes to give me the grace of Perseverance, why does He not give it to me all at once, when I ask Him?

The Holy Fathers assign many reasons. God does not grant it at once, but delays it:

(1) That He may prove our confidence.

(2) And, further, says St. Augustine, that we may long for it more vehemently. Great gifts, he says, should be greatly desired; for good things soon obtained are not held in the same estimation as those which have been long looked for: "God wills not to give quickly, that you may learn to have great desire for great things; for things long desired are all the more pleasant when obtained; but things soon given are cheapened."

(3) Again, the Lord does so that we may not forget Him; if we were already secure of persevering and of being saved, and if we had not the continual need of God's help to preserve us in His grace and to save us, we should soon forget God. Want makes the poor keep resorting to the houses of the rich; so God, to draw us to Himself, as St. Chrysostom says, and to see us often at His feet, in order that He may thus be able to do us greater good, delays giving us the complete grace of salvation till the hour of our death: "It is not because He rejects our prayers that He delays, but by this contrivance He wishes to make us careful, and to draw us to Himself." Again, He does so in order that we, by persevering in Prayer, may unite ourselves closer to Him with the sweet bonds of love: "Prayer," says the same St. Chrysostom, "which accustoms us to converse with God, is no slight bond of love with Him." This continual recourse to God in Prayer, and this confident expectation of the graces we desire--oh, what a great incentive to inflame us with love, and what a firm chain to bind us more closely to God!

But how long have we to pray? Always, says the same Saint, till we receive favourable sentence of eternal life: that is to say, till our death: "Do not leave off till you receive." And he adds: "If you say, I will not give up till I have received, you will assuredly receive." The Apostle writes that many run for the prize, but that he only receives it who runs till he wins: Know you not that they who run in the race, all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize? So run that you may obtain (1 Cor. ix. 24). It is not, then, enough for salvation to simply pray; but we must pray always, that we may at last receive the crown which God promises, but promises only to those who are constant in Prayer till the end.

So that if we wish to be saved, we must do as David did, who always kept his eyes turned to God, to implore His aid against being overcome by his enemies: My eyes are ever towards the Lord, for he shall pluck my feet out of the snare (Ps. xxiv. 15). As the devil does not cease continually spreading snares to devour us, as St. Peter writes: Your adversary, the devil, as, a roaring lion, goeth about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. v. 8); so ought we ever to stand with our arms in our hands to defend ourselves against such a foe, and to say, with the royal Prophet, I will pursue after my enemies; and I will not turn again till they are consumed (Ps. xvii. 38). I will never cease fighting till I see my enemies conquered. But how can we obtain this victory, so important for us and so difficult? "By most persevering prayers," says St. Augustine--only by prayers, and those most persevering; and till when? As long as the fight shall last. "As the battle is never over," says St. Bonaventure, "so let us never give over asking for Mercy." As we must be always in the combat, so should we be always asking God for aid not to be overcome. Woe, says the Wise Man, to him who in this battle leaves off praying: Woe to them that have lost patience (Ecclus. 16). We may be saved, the Apostle tells us, but on this condition, if we hold fast the confidence and the glory of hope unto the end (Heb. iii. 6); if we are constant in praying with confidence until death.

Let us, then, take courage from the Mercy of God, and His promises, and say with the same Apostle: Who, then shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or danger, or persecution, or the sword? (Rom. viii. 35). Who shall succeed in estranging us from the love of Jesus Christ? Tribulation, perhaps or the danger of losing the goods of this world? The persecutions of devils or men? The torments inflicted by tyrants? In all these we overcome (it is St. Paul who encourages us), because of Him that hath loved us (Rom. viii. 37). No, he says, no tribulation, no misery, danger, persecution, or torture, shall ever be able to separate us from the love of Jesus Christ; because with God's help we shall overcome all, if we fight for love of Him Who gave His life for us.

Father Hippolitus Durazzo, the day when he resolved to relinquish his dignity of prelate at Rome, and to give himself entirely to God by entering the Society of Jesus (which he afterwards did), was so afraid of being faithless by reason of his weakness that he said to God: "Forsake me not, Lord, now that I have given myself wholly to Thee! For pity's sake do not forsake me!" But he heard the whisper of God in his heart: "Rather should I say to thee: Do not thou forsake Me!" And so at last the servant of God, trusting in His goodness and help, concluded, "Then, O my God, Thou wilt not leave me, and I will not leave Thee."

Finally, if we wish not to be forsaken by God, we ought never cease praying to Him not to leave us. If we do this, He will certainly always assist us, and will never allow us to perish, or be separated from His love. And to this end let us not only take care always to ask for final Perseverance, and the graces necessary to obtain it, but let us, at the same time, always by anticipation, ask God for grace to go on praying; for this is precisely that great gift which He promised to His Elect by the mouth of the Prophet: And I will pour out upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of prayers (Zach. xii. 10). Oh, what a great grace is the spirit of Prayer; that is, the grace which God confers on a soul to enable it to pray always! Let us, then, never neglect to beg God to give us this grace, and this spirit of continual Prayer; because if we pray always, we shall certainly obtain from God Perseverance and every other gift which we desire, since His promise of hearing whoever prays to Him cannot fail. For we are saved by hope (Rom. viii. 24). With this hope of always praying we may reckon ourselves saved. "Confidence," says the Venerable Bede, "will give us a broad entrance into this City." This hope will give us a safe passage into the City of Paradise.

Evening Meditation


"Charity endureth all things"



God permits temptations with a view to detach us more thoroughly from this life; and to kindle in us a desire to go and behold Him in Heaven. Hence pious souls, finding themselves attacked day and night by so many enemies, come at length to feel a loathing for life, and exclaim: "Woe is me, that my sojourning is prolonged! (Ps. cxix. 5). And they sigh for the moment when they can say: The snare is broken and we are delivered (Ps. cxxiii. 7). The soul would willingly wing her flight to God; but as long as she lives upon this earth she is bound by a snare which detains her here below, where she is continually assailed with temptations; this snare is only broken by death; so that the souls that love God sigh for death, which will deliver them from all danger of losing Him.

Almighty God, moreover, allows us to be tempted, to make us richer in merits, as it was said to Tobias: And because thou wast acceptable to God, it was necessary that temptations should prove thee (Tob. xii. 13). Thus a soul need not imagine herself out of God's favour because she is tempted, but should make it rather a motive of hope that God loves her. It is a delusion of the devil to lead some pusillanimous persons to suppose that temptations are sins that contaminate the soul. It is not bad thoughts that make us lose God, but the consenting to them; let the suggestions of the devil be everso violent, let those filthy imaginations which overload our minds be ever so lively, they cannot cast the least stain on our souls, provided only we yield no consent to them; on the contrary, they make the soul purer, stronger, and dearer to Almighty God. St. Bernard says that every time we overcome a temptation we win a fresh crown in Heaven: "As often as we conquer, so often are we crowned." An Angel once appeared to a Cistercian monk, and put a crown into his hands, with orders that he should carry it to one of his fellow-Religious, as a reward for the temptation that he had lately overcome. Neither must we be disturbed if evil thoughts do not forthwith disappear from our minds, but continue obstinately to persecute us; it is enough if we detest them, and do our best to banish them.

God is faithful, says the Apostle; He will not allow us to be tempted above our strength: God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able; but will make also with the temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it (1 Cor. x. 13).


So far from losing anything by temptations, a person derives great profit from them. On this account God frequently allows the souls dearest to Him to undergo the severest temptations, that they may turn them into a source of greater merit on earth, and of greater glory in Heaven. Stagnant waters soon grow putrid; a soul at ease, without any struggle or temptation, stands in great danger of perishing from some self-conceit of her own merit. She perhaps imagines herself to have already attained to perfection, and therefore has little to fear; and consequently takes little pains to recommend herself to God and to secure her salvation; but when, on the contrary, she is agitated by temptations, and sees herself in danger of rushing headlong into sin, then she has recourse to God; she goes to the Divine Mother; she renews her resolution rather to die than to sin; she humbles herself, and casts herself into the arms of the Divine mercy: in this manner, as experience shows us, the soul acquires fresh strength and closer union with God.

This must not, however, lead us to seek after temptations; on the contrary, we must pray God to deliver us from temptations, and from those more especially by which God foresees we should be overcome; and this is precisely the object of that petition of the Our Father: Lead us not into temptation. But when, by God's permission, we are beset with temptations, we must then, without being either alarmed or discouraged by those foul thoughts, rely wholly on Jesus Christ, and beseech Him to help us; and He, on His part, will not fail to give us the strength to resist. St. Augustine says: "Throw thyself on Him, and fear not; He will not withdraw to let thee fall."