Divine Intimacy: Meditations on the Interior Life for Everyday of the Year [PDF]

PRESENCE OF GOD - O Jesus, true Bread of eternal life, appease my hunger.


1. Today there is a pause of holy joy and spiritual comfort which the Church, like a good mother, gives us in the middle of the Lenten austerity so that we may renew our strength. “Rejoice, O Jerusalem,” the Introit of today’s Mass sings, “and all you who love her, leap with joy and be filled with the abundance of her delights.” What are these delights? The Gospel (Jn 6,1-15) answers the question by the narrative of the multiplication of the loaves, the great miracle by which Jesus meant to prepare the people for the announcement of a much more startling miracle, the institution of the Holy Eucharist, in which He, the Master, would become our Bread, the “living Bread which came down from Heaven ” (ibid. 6,41) to nourish our souls. This is the cause of our joy, the source of our delight. Jesus is the Bread of life, always at our disposal to appease our hunger.

Although Jesus appreciates spiritual values much better than we, He does not forget or despise the material necessities of life. Today’s Gospel shows Him surrounded by the crowd which had followed Him to hear His teachings. Jesus thinks of their hunger, and to provide for it, performs one of His most outstanding miracles. With His blessing, five loaves of bread and two fishes suffice to feed five thousand people, with twelve basketfuls left over.

Jesus knows that when a person is tormented by hunger or material needs, he is unable to apply himself to the things of the spirit. Charity likewise requires of us this understanding of the bodily necessities of others, a practical understanding which translates itself into efficacious action. “If a brother or sister be naked and want daily food, and one of you say to them, ‘Go in peace’ ...yet give them not those things that are necessary for the body, what shall it profit?” (Fas 2,15.16). The Apostles had suggested to the Master that He dismiss the crowd “that they may buy themselves victuals” (Mt 14,15). Jesus did not agree but provided for them Himself. We, too, must strive, as far as we are able, to show ourselves solicitous for the needs of others.

2. Before performing this miracle, Jesus asked Philip, “Whence shall we buy bread wherewith to feed these people?” And the Evangelist observes, “He said that to try him, for He knew what He was about to do.” There is no difficulty in our lives for which God does not know the solution. From all eternity He has foreseen it and has the remedy for each case, no matter how complicated the situation may be. However, sometimes in difficult circumstances He seems to leave us alone as if the outcome were to depend on us, but He does this only to test us. He wants us to measure our strength against the difficulty—which makes us more aware of our weakness and insufficiency—and He wants us also to exercise our faith and our confidence in Him. The Lord never really abandons us unless we forsake Him first. He only hides Himself and covers His actions with a dark veil. This is the time to believe, to believe firmly, and to wait with humble patience and complete

The Apostles tell Jesus that a young boy has five loaves and two fishes, that this is very little, in fact, nothing at all for feeding five thousand men. But the Lord asks for this nothing and uses it to accomplish a great miracle. It is always thus: the all-powerful God, who can do everything and create from nothing, when dealing with His free creatures, will not act without their help. Man can do but very little; yet God wants, asks for, and requires this little as a condition of His intervention. Only the Lord can make us saints, as only He could multiply the small supplies of the young boy; still He asks for our help. Like the boy in the Gospel, we too must give Him everything in our power; we must offer Him each day our good resolutions, renewed faithfully and lovingly, and He will bring about a great miracle for us also, the miracle of our sanctification.


“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who, on the Cross, with Your arms extended for the redemption of all men, drank the chalice of unspeakable sorrows, deign to help me today. Poor am I, but I come to You who are rich; in my wretchedness I present myself to You, the All-merciful. Ah! grant that I may not leave You, empty and deceived. I come to You hungry; do not let me go away fasting. Weak, I approach You; do not turn me away unstrengthened! And, if I sigh with hunger, grant me the grace to be nourished ” (St. Augustine).

Yes, I hunger for You, true Bread, living Bread, Bread of life. You know what my hunger is—hunger of the soul, hunger of the body—and You will to provide for the one as well as for the other. By Your teaching, by Your Body and Blood, You strengthen my spirit; You strengthen it abundantly, withholding nothing, except what I myself keep by the coldness of my love, the smallness of my heart. You have set a rich and abundant table for me, beyond anything imaginable, which I have only to approach in order to be fed. You not only welcome me, but You Yourself become my food and drink when You give Yourself wholly to me, wholly in Your divinity, wholly in Your humanity.

In Your infinite goodness, You have even set a table for my body, and Your Providence feeds it, clothes it, and maintains it in life like the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. You know my needs, my pains, my preoccupation with the past, the present, and the future; and You provide for everything with a paternal love. O Lord, why do I not confide in You, why do I not cast all my cares on You, certain that You will find a remedy for all of them? I entrust my life to You, the life of my body, my earthly life with all its needs and its labors, as well as the life of my soul with all its necessities, its pains, its hunger for the infinite. Only You can fill up the emptiness in my heart, only You can make me happy. You alone can bring about my ideal of sanctity— union with You.


PRESENCE OF GOD - O Jesus most obedient, make me understand the value of obedience.


1. St. John of the Cross has said, “God wants from us the least degree of obedience and submission, rather than all the works we desire to offer Him” (SM J, 13). Why? Because obedience makes us surrender our own will to adhere to God’s will as expressed in the orders of our superiors; and the perfection of charity, as well as the essence of union with God, consists precisely in the complete conformity of our will with the divine will. Charity will be perfect in us when we govern ourselves in each action— not according to our personal desires and inclinations—but according to God’s will, conforming our own to His. This is the state of union with God, for “the soul that has attained complete conformity and likeness of will (to the divine will), is totally united to and transformed in God supernaturally” (AS II, 5,4).

The will of God is expressed in His commandments, in the precepts of the Church, in the duties of our state in life; beyond all that, there is still a vast area for our free choice, where it is not always easy to know with certitude exactly what God wants of us. In the voice of obedience, however, the divine will takes on a clear, precise form; it comes to us openly manifest and we no longer need to fear making a mistake. Indeed, as St. Paul says, “There is no power but from God” (Rom 13,1), so that by obeying our lawful superiors, we can be certain that we are obeying God. Jesus Himself, when entrusting to His disciples the mission of converting the world, said, “He that heareth you, heareth Me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth Me" (Lk 10,16).

He teaches us here that ecclesiastical superiors represent Him and speak to us in His Name. Furthermore, St. Thomas points out that every lawful authority—even in the natural order, such as the civil and social spheres—when commanding within the just limits of its powers manifests the divine will. In this very sense, the Apostle does not hesitate to say, “Servants, be obedient to them that are your lords...as to Christ. ..doing the will of God from the heart” (Eph 6,5.6).

2. One of the greatest obstacles to full conformity of our will to God’s is our attachment to our own desires and inclinations. Obedience, because it asks us to be governed by the will of another, is the best way of accustoming ourselves to renounce our own will, of detaching us from it, and of making us cling to the divine will as revealed in the orders of our superiors. ‘The stricter the form of obedience to which we submit—that is, the more it tends to govern not only some particular detail but our whole life—the more intense will its practice be, and the more surely will it make us conform to the will of God. This is the great value of obedience: to unite man’s life with the will of God: to give man in every circumstance, the opportunity to govern himself, not according to his weak, fragile will, which is so subject to error, blindness, and human limitations, but according to the will of God. This divine will has such goodness, perfection, and holiness that it can never be mistaken nor will what is evil; it aims only at the good—not the transitory good, which today is and tomorrow is not—but the eternal, imperishable good.

Obedience makes us this happy exchange: renunciation of our own will for God’s will. For this reason the saints loved obedience. It is said of St. Teresa Margaret of the Heart of Jesus that, not only did she obey orders promptly, but she experienced intense pleasure in doing so—her whole aspect expressing the joy she found in obeying. If it is costly to nature to give up one’s own will, to renounce a plan, a project, or a much cherished work, the interior soul will not stop at this act of renunciation, but will realize that by suffering and struggling to overcome itself, it will be carried much further. The soul is fixed in the will of God which comes hidden in the voice of obedience and it tends toward this will with all its strength, for to embrace the will of God is to embrace God Himself.


“Oh! how sweet and glorious is this virtue of obedience, which contains all the other virtues! Because it is born of charity, and on it the rock of holy faith is founded, it is a queen, and he who espouses it knows no evil, but only peace and rest. The tempestuous waves of evil cannot hurt him because he sails in Your holy will, O my God.... He has no wish which cannot be satisfied because obedience makes him desire You alone, O Lord, who know his desires and can and will fulfill them. Obedience navigates without fatigue, and without danger comes into the port of salvation. O Jesus, I see that obedience conforms itself to You; I see it going with You into the little boat of the holy Cross. Grant me, then, O Lord, this holy obedience anointed with true humility. It is straightforward and without deceit; it brings with it the light of divine grace. Give me this hidden pearl trampled underfoot by the world, which humbles itself to submit to creatures for love of You” (St. Catherine of Siena).

O Lord, I have only one life; what better way could I use it for Your glory and my sanctification, than to submit it directly to obedience? Only by doing this shall I be certain that I am not wasting my time or deceiving myself, for to obey is to do Your will. If my will is very imperfect, Yours is holy and sanctifying; if mine has only the sad power to lead me astray, Yours can make holy my life and all my acts—even the simplest and most indifferent—if they are accomplished at its suggestion. O Lord, the desire to live totally in Your will urges me to obedience and compels me to love and embrace this virtue, in spite of my great attachment to my liberty and independence.

O holy, sanctifying will of my God, I want to love You above everything else; I want to embrace You at every moment of my life; I do not want to do anything without You or outside of You.


PRESENCE OF GOD - O Jesus, obedient even unto the death of the Cross, teach us to follow Your example.


1. Jesus said to the young man who was aspiring to perfection, “If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor,”—the evangelical counsel of poverty— “and come follow Me” (Mt 19,21),—the counsel of voluntary obedience, according to St. Thomas. To follow Jesus means to imitate His virtues, among which obedience certainly ranks first. Jesus came into the world to accomplish the will of His Father: “It is written of Me that I should do Thy will, O God” (Heb 10,7). Several times during His life He said it expressly: “I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me” (Jn 6,38); and He declared that His food, His sustenance, the support of His life, was the fulfilling of His Father’s will (cf. ibid. 4,34). But Jesus also wanted to express concretely His dependence on His heavenly Father, by submitting Himself to those creatures who in the natural order had authority over Him as man. Thus he lived for thirty years subject in all things to Mary and Joseph, recognizing His Father’s authority in theirs. “He was subject to them,” the Gospel says (Lk 2,51), as it summarizes in these few words the long years of the private life of the Savior. Later, during His public life, and especially during His Passion, Jesus always gave an example of obedience to constituted authority, civil as well as religious, even subjecting Himself to His judges and executioners and making Himself, according to the words of St. Paul, “obedient unto death, even to the death of the Cross” (Phil 2,8). Having come into the world through obedience, Jesus wanted to live in obedience and through obedience. He embraced death, repeating in the Garden of Olives: “Father...not My will but Thine be done” (Lk 22,42). To follow Jesus in the life of perfection means that we must voluntarily embrace a life of total dependence. St. Thomas concludes from this that obedience belongs to the essence of the state of perfection.

2. To follow Jesus means to carry out fully His invitation: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself” (Mt 16,24). Now the greatest act of renunciation that man can make is just this sacrifice of his liberty by submission to obedience in all things. In fact, “nothing is dearer to man than the freedom of his own will, for this is what makes him master over others; because of this freedom, he can use and enjoy other goods and is master of his acts. Even as a man by abandoning his wealth or his kinsfolk renounces them, so by surrendering the freedom of his own will, by which he is master of himself, he renounces himself” (St. Thomas, The Perfection of the Spiritual Life). For this reason the vow of obedience is the greatest and most meritorious sacrifice man can offer to God.

To permit our life to be ruled by another—in this the sacrifice of obedience consists. Every man is free, having received his liberty from God; therefore, he has the right to govern himself according to his own judgment and personal views.! Hence anyone who promises obedience uses his freedom to renounce this right, voluntarily offering it as a free holocaust for the service, worship, and glory of God. As the holocaust of the chosen people was a victim entirely consumed in honor of God, no part of it being spared, similarly the vow of obedience immolates the whole man to the honor of God. Obedience then makes a sacrifice of our being to its depths, or to be more exact, it sacrifices everything selfish in it—our attachments to our opinions, inclinations, and our personal demands. In this sense, nothing helps to free us from love of self, to strip us of ourselves as much as obedience. At the same time, far from destroying our personality, obedience makes use of it in a most glorious and sublime way, by enabling it to surrender itself in order to adhere entirely to God, to His holy, sanctifying will.


“O Jesus, You would not have one that loves You well take any other road than that which You Yourself took” (cf. T.J. F, 5). And now I have decided to follow You, to walk in Your footsteps on the path of holy obedience, a way hollowed out in the solid rock of Your example, of Your most humble submission, of Your ineffable subjection. “O God, You who reign over the angels, You whom the principalities and powers obey, were subject to Mary, and not only to Mary, but also to Joseph because of Mary. For God to obey a creature is humility without a parallel. O Lord, You abase Yourself, and I, shall I exalt myself? O my soul, if you disdain to imitate the example of a man, it will certainly not be unworthy of you to imitate your Creator. If perhaps you cannot follow Him wherever He goes, at least follow Him to the point to which He willed to descend for you” (cf. St. Bernard).

O Jesus, grant that I may follow You in the way of obedience; give me a profound spirit of faith so that I shall always be able to recognize Your voice and will in the command of obedience. “Teach me, O Lord, to abandon myself with confidence to Your words: 'He who hears you, hears Me.’ Teach me to forget my own will; You appreciate this sacrifice very greatly because it makes You Master of the free will which You Yourself have given me. I wish to offer You this gift in its plenitude, with no reservation whatever. Grant that I may be faithful to this resolution and then, in spite of the repugnances and opposition of nature, I shall succeed in conforming myself to what You command; in short, whether it costs me pain or not, I shall succeed in submitting myself. I know indeed, O Lord, that You will not fail to help me, and in subjecting my reason and will for love of You, You will teach me how to become master of them. Once I am master of myself, I shall be able to consecrate myself perfectly to You by offering You a pure will, for You to unite to Your own” (cf. T.J. F, 5).


PRESENCE OF GOD - O Jesus, divine Lamb, immolated voluntarily for the glory of the Father, make me understand the great value of voluntary immolation.


1. The vow of obedience has been excellently defined as the “free immolation of liberty” (Pius XII, Alloc. Congr. Relig., Dec., 1950). This definition stresses the idea of the freedom of our immolation. It involves no nonchalant passivity, but an intense, noble activity, consisting in the voluntary renunciation of one’s own will by voluntarily submitting oneself to the will of God as expressed in the commands of our superiors. This is very far from the idea of a mechanical, material, or forced obedience, submitted to from necessity—an obedience by which man acts like a machine, or like a servant who submits himself to his master only because he cannot do otherwise. Under these circumstances, there is only the name and the outward appearance of obedience. What is wholly lacking is the inner content: the formal act which consists precisely in the free, and therefore conscious, renunciation of our own wills, in order to adhere to God’s will manifested in the orders of our superiors. Obedience will not be a perfect holocaust unless it contains this double element: free renunciation of self and free adherence to the divine will. This offering will be pleasing and precious in the eyes of God far more than the “oblation of victims” (1 Sm 15,22). If this twofold interior element is lacking, the exterior act of obedience can suffice to keep us from breaking the vow or the promise made, but it loses its profound value and will never succeed in detaching a man from his own will and casting him into God’s will.

When we are satisfied with material, forced obedience, we do not complete the interior act of self-renunciation; though there is the external fulfillment of an order, we are keeping our own will interiorly. Therefore, we cannot say that we have realized the immolation of our liberty, and not even that we have freely embraced the divine will. Such obedience is senseless for a soul that aspires to union with God; it is an attempt to attain the end without making use of the means, to exchange the precious metal of true obedience for a cheap pewter coin. St. Teresa of Jesus tells us that there is “no path which leads more quickly to the highest perfection than that of obedience.... Obedience brings us the sooner to that happy state of union with God” (F, 5). She is evidently speaking only of that obedience which is “the free immolation of liberty,” which has no desire for any other liberty than to do God’s will.

2. A “free immolation” always implies full knowledge and awareness on the part of the one who makes it; it is the same with the act of obedience. If we make a vow or promise of obedience, we must try always to keep alive the sense of responsibility for this contract we have made.

When we pronounced the formula of our profession, we intended to offer our will as a holocaust to God, and to be guided by His representative. Therefore, when given commands—and especially those most unlike our own personal ideas or orders which for one reason or another are more painful to us—we should be vigilant lest it happen that we take back in practice what we have offered by our vow, which would be to commit robbery in our holocaust. Our will has been consecrated, sacrificed on the altar of the Lord, it is no longer ours, hence we have no freedom to take it back. We should, instead, use our liberty to live our offering in its totality day by day, that is, to constantly renew the immolation of our freedom before every disposition of obedience. Blessed obedience, which permits us to actualize our holocaust! “If you give Him your will in any other way,” wrote St. Teresa of Jesus to her daughters, “you are just showing Him a jewel, pretending to give it to Him and begging Him to take it; and then, when He puts out His hand to do so, taking it back and holding on to it tightly” (Way, 32). Unfortunately, this inconsistency is always possible. Although we have sacrificed our will by our vow, it still remains in our hands, and our fidelity to our vow depends on our own will. It is necessary then to have great determination to overcome our repugnance to embrace the will of God as expressed in the commands of our superiors.

“Obedience is the burden of the strong” (Pius XII, Allocution to the Discalced Carmelites, September, 1952), and rightly so, because it requires strength to renounce oneself; but this burden of sacrifice is sweet to the soul enamored of God’s will, for in His love it will always find the strength to renounce itself.


O Lord, is there any finer or greater ideal than that of attaining total conformity of my will with Yours, so that it is no longer my own will but Yours that directs, guides, and governs me in all my movements and actions?

Oh! how sublime is this state of perfect conformity to Your divine will! You tell me through St. Teresa: “There is no better way of acquiring this treasure than to dig and toil in order to get it from this mine of obedience. ‘The more we dig, the more we shall find; and the more we submit to men for love of You, and have no other will than that of our superiors, the more completely we shall become masters of our wills and bring them into conformity with Yours. This is true union with You, my God, the union which I desire; I do not covet those delectable kinds of absorption which it is possible to experience and which are given the name of union. They may be union if the result of them is what I have described; but if such suspension leaves behind it little obedience and much self-will, it seems to me that it will be a union with love of self, not with the will of God. May His Majesty grant that I myself may act according to my belief” (T. J. F, 5).

O Lord, You know my will’s dislike of submission, of renouncing itself in subjection to the will of another. There is in me a very strong love of liberty and independence, which inclines me to seek a thousand pretexts and means for avoiding the necessity of submitting. But You also know that there is nothing in the world that I love, seek for and desire as much as Your will. In order to live in Your will, to have the certitude and joy of acting in all things according to Your divine will, I am ready with Your help to make every sacrifice to immolate my liberty fully. O Lord, increase my love for Your holy will, enkindle in me a passion for Your will, and then increase in my soul a love for obedience, that golden channel through which the precious treasure of Your will comes to me.


PRESENCE OF GOD - O Jesus, teach me to see only You in my superiors.


1. An excellent instruction from St. John of the Cross says: “Never look upon your superior, whoever he may be, with less regard than upon God Himself” (P). If we do not have this supernatural spirit which makes us see God in the person of our superior, our obedience cannot be supernatural. It is necessary to be animated by this motive alone: I obey because my superior represents God for me and speaks to me in His Name; my superior is another Christ to me: Hic est Christus meus. This is my Christ.

We should not obey through the motive of human confidence in the person of our superior: because he is intelligent, prudent, capable, because he understands or likes us, and so forth. That is human obedience, the fruit of human prudence—an act good in itself but not supernatural. Neither should we obey because what we are told to do is the most perfect; again this is not the real reason for obedience. We must obey only because God wills whatever our superior commands. The one exception is an order involving sin, which of course God cannot want, or a command not conformable to the Rule or Constitutions which we have embraced. In either case, obedience would be unlawful. Apart from these exceptions no limit should be put to our obedience. We need not hesitate through fear that the superior is asking something less perfect. Even if he commands what is objectively less perfect than its alternative (for instance, to take some rest instead of working), it would nevertheless be the more perfect thing for us. By the simple fact that the superior has expressed an order, it is clearly the fulfillment of that, and not something else, that God wants from us at the moment. It could very well be that in the abstract we see the possibility of performing an action more perfect than what we have been told to do, and that our idea is better than our superior’s. But in reality there is no doubt about it: nothing can be more perfect for us than what God commands by means of our superior.

2. Since the motive of human confidence in our superior is a defective basis for our obedience, we must found it on supernatural confidence, on trust that springs from the recognition of the divine government working through the superiors God has given us. Even if our superiors were less upright or less virtuous, we would have no reason to fear. Faith teaches us that God controls and rules everything and that no human will can escape His divine dominion. Let us suppose that our superior is wrong and orders us to do something—either good in itself or indifferent—from a less upright motive. God always knows how to make use of him for the benefit of our soul; even his imperfect intentions are utilized by God to make us do what He wants of us. This is certain : God directs us by means of our superiors and they are not independent of Him. He uses them as instruments which He employs at His pleasure. Hence we must have recourse to our superior with confidence, since through him we contact God, and we are obeying God when we obey him. Such obedience is entirely supernatural and places us in direct contact with the divine will.

By acting otherwise, St. John of the Cross warns us, “you would do yourself the immense harm of lowering your obedience from the divine plane to the human.... And your obedience will be all the more vain and sterile, the more you feel irritated at the hostile attitude of your superior or more pleased with his easy or pleasant disposition. For I tell you that the devil has ruined the perfection of a great multitude of religious by causing them to consider these characteristics, and their obedience is of very little worth in the eyes of God, because they have considered these things and not paid sole respect to obedience. “If you want your obedience to have full value, fasten your glance only on God, whom you are serving in your superior” (P, 12).


O Lord, increase my spirit of faith, so that I will see You in the soul of my superior. May I repeat, spontaneously and sincerely, in his presence, Hic est Christus meus! Only by this way of obedience will a life of continual contact and uninterrupted intimacy with You be possible. If I find You present and living in the Sacrament of the Altar under the veil of the Eucharistic species, always ready to welcome and nourish my soul, I can also, but in a different way, find You hidden in the person of my superior, through whom You speak to me, always ready to disperse my doubts, to manifest Your holy will, and to direct and guide me along the road You have chosen from all eternity for my sanctification.

O Lord, why should I stop at the human appearances of my superiors? Such an attitude will only serve to keep me from finding You in them and recognizing Your will in theirs. Help me, O God, to pass over all the human aspects of obedience and to put myself in contact with You and Your divine will. Just as in the Eucharist I do not halt at the created species of bread and wine, so I ought not in obeying to consider the person of my superior, but only Your will, which reaches me under the appearance of a human order or command. O Jesus, what a great mystery! The Eucharist gives me Your Body, Your Blood, Your divinity—such is the power of the Sacrament which You have instituted. Obedience gives me Your will and makes me communicate with it—such is the power of the authority which You have established.

Once I have understood this profound truth, how can I still dare to argue or hesitate at the commands of my superiors? “ It would be a terrible thing if God were to be telling us plainly to go about His business in some way, and we would not do it but stood looking at Him because that gave us greater pleasure. A fine way it is of advancing in the love of God to tie His hands by thinking that there is only one way in which He can benefit us” (T.J. F, 5). No, Lord, grant that I may never act thus. I shall follow You wherever You lead me by means of holy obedience.


PRESENCE OF GOD - O Jesus, who out of love for me were willing to submit to Your own creatures, teach me to obey blindly.


1. When we see God in our superior we obey without argument or futile reasoning and with no delay: Christus jubet, sufficit, Christ commands, that is enough. What more do I want, when I know that the orders of my superior are those of God Himself? Even if the thing commanded is hard or painful, my certitude that Our Lord expects it of me will give me the strength to undertake it promptly, without offering the least resistance.

Of course there may be cases where there is good reason to think an order has been imposed without taking into consideration facts which, if overlooked, might be prejudicial to the superior himself; then it is well and sometimes even necessary to bring it to his attention. Neither is there any imperfection in asking for explanations when the order does not seem clear or when it places us in a very embarrassing position; however, this must be done with humility, without insistence and with readiness to submit oneself to the decision
of the superior. We must have the firm determination not to reason or debate about an order, not to inquire into the motives which might have made the superior give a certain command. If we begin to argue about obedience, we put difficulties in the way of obeying; therefore, we must stop all rationalizing, even interiorly, if we wish our obedience to be a pleasing sacrifice to God. It would be worse still to discuss our feelings with others or to criticize the superior’s decisions; acting in such a way, we should create difficulties in obedience for others as well as for ourselves. If we want to offer our entire being to Our Lord, we must completely renounce our own way of thinking, for however good it may be, it will always be infinitely inferior to God’s, and God will accomplish His will in us only when we carry out the orders of our superior.

2. In declaring that our superior manifests the will of God for us, we certainly do not mean that everything he thinks, says, or wishes is thought, said, or wished by God. Certainly not. But we must understand that when the superior—in virtue of his office—gives a legitimate order, the command is a sure manifestation of God’s will. Blind obedience is obedience which goes beyond all personal judgment or opinion and adheres to the superior’s orders, solely because in them is recognized the divine will. This obedience is blind because the intellect is deprived of its own light when it is not permitted to consider its personal judgment, to inquire into the superior’s reasons, or to discuss his orders; it is blind because it is based only on a motive of faith, for by faith we know God’s will is manifested through our superior. Even as faith is an “obscure” knowledge, we can say that the obedience it inspires is “deprived of natural light” and is therefore blind. In other words, blind obedience is not based on reasoning that involves human motives, but it is based on the unique motive of faith which knows that one who hears the superior hears God. “He who hears you, hears Me.”

In a case where the opinion of the subject might be better than the superior’s, blind obedience does not require the denial of one’s own judgment to the point of affirming the contrary—an affirmation which would not be conformable to truth. It simply demands that we give up the right to direct our actions according to our own opinion; we decide that we must obey just the same, because it is certain that God wants what the superior has ordered and not what seems better to us, and perhaps is so objectively.

One who, under the pretext of doing the more perfect thing, departs from the way of obedience, leaves at the same time the sure path of God’s will to enter upon the perilous and treacherous road of his own will. It is certain that a soul consecrated to God can do nothing agreeable to Him outside of holy obedience. “The actions of a religious,” says St. John of the Cross, “are not his own but belong to obedience, and if he withdraw them from obedience, he wilt have to account them as lost” (P, 11).


“O Lord, how different are Thy ways from our clumsy imaginings! When once a soul has resolved to love Thee and has resigned itself into Thy hands, Thou wilt have nothing of it save that it shall obey Thee and find out for itself how it may best serve Thee and desire to do so. It has no need to look for paths or to choose them, for its will is Thine. Thou, my Lord, takest upon Thyself the task of guiding it in the way which is the greatest benefit to it. And even though our superior has no mind to our soul’s profit...Thou, my God, hast a mind to our profit, and dost dispose the soul and prepare things for it to do in such a way that, without knowing how, we find ourselves so much more spiritual and so greatly benefited that we are astonished” (T.J. F, 5).

“O my God, from how much disquiet do we free ourselves when we make the vow of obedience! Having nothing for a compass but the will of our superior, we are always sure of following the right path, and need not fear that we will be misled, even when it may appear that our superiors are mistaken. But when we cease to consult the unerring compass, immediately our soul goes astray in barren wastes, where the waters of grace quickly fail. O Jesus, obedience is the compass You have given me to direct me safely to the eternal shore. What a joy it is for me to fix my glance upon You and then to accomplish Your will” (cf. T.C.J. St, 9).

O Lord, I want to apply myself to obedience with unshakable confidence in Your divine Providence which rules, guides and directs everything, making all things work together in an ineffable manner for the good of my soul. I wish to apply myself to obedience without the slightest hesitation, binding myself to You and to Your divine will.


PRESENCE OF GOD - O Jesus, teach me the secret of humble obedience which submits to every superior and every command.


1. Although obedience is precious because it places our whole life in God’s will, nevertheless, in practice it has its difficulties and these arise chiefly because the command itself does not come directly from God but through His representatives. Thus it often happens that we fail to see God in our superiors and to recognize His authority in them. For example, when, as often happens in religious life, we have as our superior a former colleague or perhaps even a former pupil, younger and less experienced than we, one whose weaknesses and defects we know only too well, we could easily be tempted to have insufficient respect for his authority and his commands. Then a life of obedience becomes especially difficult: it is hard for us to obey, we do not have recourse to the superior with childlike trust, and what is worse, we justify this attitude to ourselves. Here we are making a great mistake in perspective; we forget that, no matter who the superior is, he is invested with authority which comes from God, authority placed on him solely because he has been called to this office. This authority is unchangeable and has the same force whether the superior is old or young, experienced and virtuous or inexperienced and less virtuous. Basically, if we find ourselves in these difficulties, we must lay the blame on our lack of a supernatural spirit, a spirit of faith, We are judging spiritual matters according to natural standards and from the point of view of human values, which makes it impossible for us to live a life of real obedience, a life entirely based on supernatural values and motives. We must learn how to rise above human views concerning the person of our superior—his good qualities or his faults, his actions in the past, and so forth—to look upon him only as the representative of God and of His divine authority. It is true, we often find it absolutely necessary to use all our strength and efforts to do this if we do not wish to lose the fruit of a life of obedience. It is certain that the more we force ourselves to see in our superiors the authority which comes from God, so much the more perfect and meritorious our obedience will be, and God Himself will guide us by through them.

2. Very often, if not always, a want of supernatural spirit is accompanied by a want of humility. It is painful to self-love to depend upon and submit to others; it is hard to subject our own affairs to the judgment and rule of someone else and to acquiesce to his decisions. It is particularly difficult if the superior seems to be, at least in some respects, our inferior in age, culture, experience, or ability; then the “ego,” its pride hurt, rebels vigorously, hiding its resistance under a thousand excuses. This, too, is a grave error because, although it is true that the superior may be our inferior in some ways, we must not consider this, but only the fact that he is always superior in relation to us—because God has made him so. He is superior because God has placed him over us; he is superior because God has given him the mission to direct us in His place; his personal qualities or defects do not affect the office of superior which God has conferred upon him. Certainly a superior, on his part, should endeavor to acquire, if he does not already possess them, the virtue and capability required by his office. But this is his affair; our duty, as subjects, is to do but one thing : to submit with filial humility, to allow ourselves to be guided and governed. It is strictly a question of humility, because after all, humility means humbling ourselves, putting ourselves in the right place, the place of a subject in relation to a superior, which is always that of humble dependence. Let us reflect on the obedience of Jesus, and in it we shall see the attitude of humility carried to its utmost : although He was God, “He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men.... He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the Cross” (Phil 2,7.8). What is our self-abasement, our submission to our superiors and our dependence on them compared to this profound humiliation of Jesus, who although He was God willed to become man, to live as man, subjecting Himself to His own creatures?

Let us be convinced that if our obedience is faulty, it is almost always because we are wanting in humility.


“My sweet Savior, can I see You obedient to Your creatures for love of me, and refuse to be obedient out of love for You to those who represent You? Can I see You obedient unto death, the death of the Cross, out of love for me, without lovingly embracing this virtue and the Cross on which You consummated it?

“I will force myself to the utmost of my power to imitate Your example, and for love of You, obey all creatures-—-my superiors, equals, or inferiors—in all things, without argument, murmuring, or delay, but joyfully and lovingly. Therefore, I will not question the reasons why I am old to do this or that; I will not think about the way in which the order is given to me, or the person who gives it. I will consider Your will alone, letting myself be moved like You in any direction, by anyone, in agreeable or disagreeable, suitable or unseemly circumstances. It matters not! Grant me the obedience You desire.

“O Jesus, who willed to make reparation for Adam’s disobedience and mine at the cost of Your life; O Jesus who by Your death acquired for me the grace of knowing how to obey, I wish to live longer only to sacrifice my life by perfect, continual obedience” (St. Francis de Sales).

“O Lord, You desire to infuse obedience into our hearts, but You cannot because we will not recognize that You speak and work through our superiors, and also because we are attached to our own will” (St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi).
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre

PRESENCE OF GOD - O Jesus, help me to enter into the mystery of Your Passion; deign to associate me with it, so that I may participate in Your Resurrection.


1. Today Passiontide begins, a time especially consecrated to the remembrance and loving contemplation of the sorrows of Jesus. The veiled crucifix and statues, the absence of the Gloria in the Mass and the Gloria Patri in the responsories of the Divine Office,—are all signs of mourning by which the Church commemorates Our Lord’s Passion. Pope St. Leo exhorts us to participate “in the Cross of Christ, in order that we also may do something which will unite us to what He has done for us, for as the Apostle says, ‘if we suffer with Him,
we shall be glorified with Him.’” Therefore, we must not only meditate on Jesus’ sufferings, but also take part in them; only by bearing His Passion in our heart and in our body (cf. 2 Cor 4,10) shall we be able to share in its fruits. So it is that in the liturgy of this season the Church repeats more insistently than ever : “ If you hear the voice of the Lord, harden not your hearts.” The voice of the Lord makes itself heard these days, not by words, but by the eloquent testimony of deeds, by the great events of the Passion—a mystery which gives us the most convincing proof of His infinite love for us. Let us, therefore, open our heart to the sublime lessons of the Passion : let us see how much Jesus has loved us and how much we ought to love Him in return; let us learn that, if we wish to follow Him, we, too, must suffer and bear the Cross with Him and after Him. At the same time, let us open our heart to a lively hope; for our salvation is in the Passion of Jesus. In today’s Epistle (Heb 9,11-15) St. Paul presents to us the majestic figure of Christ, the Eternal High Priest, who “by His Blood, entered once into the holies, [that is, heaven] having obtained eternal redemption.” The Passion of Jesus has redeemed us; it has opened once again our Father’s house to us; it is then the motive for our hope.

2. The Gospel (Jn 8,46-59) narrates an instance of the pressing hostility of the Jews, an evident prelude to the Passion of Jesus. In their hardened hearts they had absolutely refused to acknowledge the mission of the Savior; as a result, they schemed in a thousand ways to oppose His teachings and to belittle Him before the people by declaring Him a liar and one possessed by the devil. Their animosity had increased to the point where they decided to stone Him: “They took up stones therefore to cast at Him.” Jesus’ death was already decreed by the Jews, but the hour fixed by His Father had not yet come, so “Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the Temple.”

This passage in the Gospel allows us to consider the conduct of Jesus in the presence of His persecutors: we see zeal for their souls, meekness, personal disinterestedness, and total abandonment to God. St. Gregory the Great wrote: “Consider, beloved brethren, the meekness of the Lord. He, who had come to remit sins, said, ‘Which of you will convince Me of sin?’ He, who by virtue of His divinity, could justify sinners, does not disdain to prove by reasoning that He is not a sinner.”

The calumnies continued: “Thou art a Samaritan and hast a devil.” The divine Master answered, always with meekness, only what was necessary to testify to the truth: “I have not a devil, but I honor My Father, and you have dishonored Me.” ‘Then He placed His reputation and His cause in the hands of God. “I seek not My own glory; there is One that seeketh and judgeth.” In the meantime, throughout all the discussions, He did not cease to instruct and to enlighten minds, attempting to draw them away from error. Always forgetful of Himself, He thought only of the good of souls. It was precisely in these painful circumstances that Jesus gave us precious instruction : “ He that is of God, heareth the words of God.... If any man keep My word, he shall not see death forever.” Let us gather these lessons from the lips of our persecuted Master, and keep them in our heart with a jealous care. In our day, too, the world is filled with His enemies, those who oppose His doctrine and despise His Passion. Let us, at least, believe in Him and be His faithful friends.


“Praise be to You, O most merciful God, who willed to redeem us and restore us by the Passion, the sufferings, the scorn, and the poverty of Your Son, when we were wretched outcasts and condemned prisoners. I run to Your Cross, O Christ—to suffering, scorn, and poverty; with all my strength I desire to be transformed in You, O suffering God-Man, who loved me so much that You endured a horrible, shameful death for the sole purpose of saving me, and to give me an example, so that I would be able to endure adversity for love of You. It is the perfection and true proof of love to conform myself to You, O Crucified One, who for my sins willed to undergo a cruel death, delivering Yourself entirely to tortures, as a victim. O my suffering God, only by reading the book of Your life and death shall I be able to know You and to penetrate Your mystery. Grant me, then, a profound spirit of prayer, a pious, humble, attentive prayer, springing not only from my lips, but also from my heart and soul, so that I shall be able to understand the lessons of Your Passion!

“In this book, I see Your infinite goodness and mercy, which made You take upon Yourself our condemnation, our scorn, our sufferings, rather than leave us in such a wretched state. I see the unlimited bounty, the care, the diligence You showed to save us and lead us back to the heavenly kingdom. I see the infinite wisdom by which You redeemed us, saved us, and glorified us in an ineffable manner, through Your mercy, without harming Your justice. While You died a painful death, You vivified everything and destroyed that death common to us all.

“Yet more, in the book of Your Cross I see Your infinite meekness, by which, although being cursed, You did not curse nor avenge Yourself, but on the contrary, You pardoned and won heaven for the very ones who were crucifying You” (St. Angela of Foligno).


PRESENCE OF GOD - O Jesus Crucified, teach me the science of the Cross; make me understand the value of suffering.


1. The Passion of Jesus teaches us in a concrete way that in the Christian life we must be able to accept suffering for the love of God. This is a hard, repugnant lesson for our nature, which prefers pleasure and happiness; however, it comes from Jesus, the Teacher of truth and of life, the loving Teacher of our souls, who desires only our real good. If He commends suffering to us, it is because suffering contains a great treasure.

Suffering in itself is an evil and cannot be agreeable; if Jesus willed to embrace it in all its plenitude and if He offers it to us, inviting us to esteem and love it, it is only in view of a superior good which cannot be attained by any other means—the sublime good of the redemption and the sanctification of our souls.

Although man, by his twofold nature, is subject to suffering, God willed to exempt our first parents from it by their preternatural gifts; but through sin, these gifts were lost forever, and suffering inevitably entered our life. The gamut of sufferings which has harassed humanity is the direct outcome of the disorder caused by sin, not only by original sin, but also by actual sins. Yet the Church chants: O happy fault! Why? The answer lies in the infinite love of God which transforms everything and draws from the double evil of sin and suffering the great good of the redemption of the human race. When Jesus took upon Himself the sins of mankind, He also assumed their consequences, that is, suffering and death; and this suffering, embraced by Him during His whole life, and especially in His Passion, became the instrument of our redemption. Pain, the result of sin, becomes in Jesus and with Jesus, the means of destroying sin itself. Thus a Christian may not consider pain only as an undesirable burden from which he must necessarily recoil, but he must see in it much more—a means of redemption and sanctification.

2. Suffering is the disagreeable feeling which we experience when something—a situation, a circumstance, —does not correspond to our inclinations, our needs, or our hopes, which does not harmonize with them or gratify them, but on the contrary, contradicts and opposes them. Whereas all men are subject to this misery, the Christian alone possesses the secret of accepting it into his life without destroying the harmony or the happiness which he can enjoy on earth. This secret consists precisely, for a Christian, in attuning all kinds of suffering to his personal aspirations, which, for him, can never be limited to an ideal of earthly happiness. This harmony is possible, for that which appears to be opposition and disagreement from one point of view, often turns into profit when seen in a different light. Thus, for example, physical suffering, cold, hunger, illness, while unpleasant to the body, can be very useful for the attainment of a moral or supernatural good, such as the acquisition of virtue, or progress in holiness. If, from a purely human viewpoint, some sufferings seem inopportune and useless, they are never so when regarded supernaturally. “To them that love God, all things work together unto good” (Rom 8,28).

Even the greatest calamity, private or public, can become a precious and most effective means of elevating the soul. Every kind of suffering can then be made conformable to the highest ideals of the Christian : eternal salvation, sanctity, the glory of God, the good of souls. But this congruity is impossible without love; or rather, it will be possible only in proportion to our love, for it was by love alone that Jesus transformed the Cross, a terrible instrument of torture, into a most efficacious instrument for the glory of God and the
salvation of mankind. It is the same for us : charity, the love of God and of souls, will enable us to accept any kind of suffering, harmonizing it with our loftiest aspirations. In this way, suffering finds a place, a very important place, in our life, without destroying our peace and serenity. On the contrary, our spirit is dilated under an increasingly generous inspiration, unto an ever greater love. As a result, we shall be happy, even while we are experiencing pain. Behold how Jesus has transformed suffering; behold the value conferred
on it by His Passion.


“© Lord, You do not like to make us suffer, but You know it is the only way to prepare us to know You as You know Yourself, to prepare us to become like You. You know well that if You sent me but a shadow of earthly happiness, I should cling to it with all the intense ardor of my heart, and so You refuse me even this shadow... because You wish that my heart be wholly Yours.

“Life passes so quickly that it is obviously better to have a most splendid crown and a little suffering, than an ordinary crown and no suffering. When I think that, for a sorrow borne with joy, I shall be able to love You more for all eternity, I understand clearly that if You gave me the entire universe, with all its treasures, it would be nothing in comparison to the slightest suffering. Each new suffering, each pang of the heart, is a gentle wind to bear to You, O Jesus, the perfume of the soul that loves You; then You smile lovingly, and immediately make ready a new grief, and fill the cup to the brim, thinking the more the soul grows in love, the more it must grow in suffering too.

“What a favor, my Jesus, and how You must love me to send me suffering! Eternity itself will not be long enough to bless You for it. Why this predilection? It is a secret which You will reveal to me in our heavenly home on the day when You will wipe away all our tears.

“Lord, You ask me for this suffering, this sorrow.... You need it for souls, for my soul. O Jesus, since You have made me understand that You would give me souls through the Cross, the more crosses I meet, the more ardent my thirst for suffering becomes.

“I am happy not to be free from suffering here; suffering united with love is the only thing that seems desirable to me in this vale of tears” (T.C.J. L, 32,50,23,40,58,224 - St).


PRESENCE OF GOD - O Jesus, meek and divinely patient, teach me the secret of true patience.


1. Patience is the virtue which makes us accept for love of God, generously and peacefully, everything that is displeasing to our nature, without allowing ourselves to be depressed by the sadness which easily comes over us when we meet with disagreeable things.

Patience is a special aspect of the virtue of fortitude which prevents our deviating from the right road when we encounter obstacles. It is an illusion to believe in a life without difficulties. These are usually all the greater and the more frequent as our undertakings are more generous. Great works, magnanimous and heroic virtues, always grow in the midst of difficulties. In the presence of these, fortitude has a double function: to face them and to bear them. Many difficulties are surmounted and overcome by an act of courage; others, on the contrary, cannot be mastered. We must learn to bear with them, and this is the role of patience—an arduous task, because it is easier to face obstacles directly, than to support the inevitable oppositions and sufferings of life, which, in time, tend to discourage and sadden us.

Only by fixing our glance on Jesus, the divinely patient One, can we learn to practise patience. When we see Him who came into the world to save us, living from the first moment of His earthly existence in want, privation, and poverty, and later in the midst of misunderstanding and persecution; when we see Him become the object of the hatred of His own fellow citizens, calumniated, doomed to death, betrayed by a friend, and tried and condemned as a malefactor, our souls are stirred : we realize that we cannot be His disciples unless we follow the same road. If Jesus, the Innocent One par excellence, bore so much for love of us, can we, sinners who are deserving to suffer, not endure something for love of Him? Whatever the total of suffering in our lives, it will always be very small, and even nothing, compared with the infinite sufferings of Jesus; for in His Passion Christ not only endured the suffering of one life or of several human lives, but that of all mankind.

2. Whoever wishes to become patient, must, first of all, look at the motives for suffering in the profound light of faith. This superior illumination will make the soul understand that everything that happens in life is always permitted by God, and is solely for its good. It is true that very often suffering and hardships come to us through secondary causes; but that makes little difference when we realize that everything comes from our loving Father in Heaven, who uses these painful circumstances to help us to become more virtuous. If we wish to live only for God, we must never stop to consider the human causes of our sufferings, we must accept all from His hands, simply repeating: “ Dominus est!” It is the Lord!

This acceptance does not prevent us from feeling, even deeply feeling, the weight of suffering—Jesus, also, felt it in His agony in the Garden of Olives—but it does help us to be undisturbed, to preserve peace and serenity, to maintain self-control and, consequently, to be patient.

In order to begin to practice patience, we must try to bear daily annoyances and sufferings resignedly, without complaint, knowing that divine Providence does not permit any trial that will not be a source of good for us. In the beginning, and even for a long time, we may experience a great repugnance for suffering. Nevertheless, if we try to accept it as we should, with constancy, peace, and submission to the divine will, we shall gradually be cognizant of the great spiritual profit that flows from it; we shall feel more detached from creatures and from ourselves, and closer to God. ‘Then shall we come to value suffering spontaneously; and later, having experienced its spiritual fruitfulness more completely, we shall finally come to love it.

But let us have no illusions : the love of suffering is the summit of patience; it is the fruit of patience brought to perfection. To reach this height, we must begin with a much humbler practice; that is, the peaceful and uncomplaining acceptance of everything that makes us suffer.


O Jesus, for love of You and with Your help, I wish to suffer in peace all the contradictions of my life. “ Your thoughts are not our thoughts, Your ways are not our ways. You offer us a cup so bitter that our feeble nature cannot bear it. But I do not want to draw back my lips from the cup prepared by Your hand. You have taught me the secret of suffering in peace. Peace does not mean joy, at least not sensible joy; to suffer in peace, all I have to do is to will all that You will.

“To be Your spouse, I must be like You; and You are all covered with blood and crowned with thorns. You wish to make me like You; then, should I fear that I cannot carry the Cross without weakening? On the way to Calvary, You fell three times; and I, a poor little child, do I not wish to be like You? Should I not wish to fall a hundred times to prove to You my love, rising up again with more strength than before my fall?

“It is very consoling for me to remember that You, the God of might, knew our weaknesses, that You shuddered at the sight of the bitter cup which earlier You had so ardently desired to drink.

“O Jesus, what it costs to give You what You ask! But what happiness that it does cost! Far from complaining to You of the crosses You send me, I cannot fathom the infinite love which has moved You to treat me so. O Lord, do not let me waste the trial You send me, it is a gold mine I must exploit. I, a little grain of sand, want to set myself to the task, without joy, without courage, without strength, and all these conditions will make the enterprise easier; I want to work for love.

“In spite of this trial which robs me of all sense of enjoyment, I can still say: ‘You have given me, O Lord, a delight in Your doings.’ For is there any greater joy than to suffer for Your love, O my God? The more intense and the more hidden the suffering, the more do You value it. And even if, by an impossibility, You should not be aware of my affliction, I should still be happy to bear it, in the hope that by my tears I might prevent or atone for one sin against faith” (T.C.J. L, 63,51,184,59 - St, 9).


PRESENCE OF GOD - O Jesus Crucified, help me, by the merits of Your Cross, to carry my cross daily.


1. “He that taketh not up his cross, and followeth Me, is not worthy of Me” (Mt 10,38). By these words, the divine Master expressly declares that one of the indispensable conditions for being His disciple is to carry the cross. The word cross, however, should not make us think only of special sufferings, which, while not excluded, are not generally our portion. First of all, we must think of those common daily disagreeable things which are part of everyone’s life and which we must try to accept as so many means to progress and
spiritual fruitfulness.

It is often easier to accept, in a burst of generosity, the great sacrifices and sufferings of singular occurrence, than the little, insignificant sufferings, closely connected with our state of life and the fulfillment of our duty: sufferings which occur daily under the same form, with the same intensity and insistence, among endless and unchanging circumstances. These may include physical ailments caused by poor health, economic restrictions, the fatigue attendant upon overwork or anxiety; they may be moral sufferings resulting from differences of opinion, clash of temperaments, or misunderstandings. Herein lies the genuine cross that Jesus offers us daily, inviting us to carry it after Him—an unpretentious cross, which does not require great heroism, but which does demand that we repeat our Fiat every day, meekly bowing our shoulders to carry its weight with generosity and love. The value, the fruitfulness of our daily sacrifices comes from this unreserved acceptance, which makes us receive them just as God offers them to us, without trying to avoid them or to lessen their weight. “Yea, Father, for so hath it seemed good in Thy sight” (Mt 11,26).

2. Jesus calls our sufferings a cross because the word cross signifies instrument of salvation; and He does not want our sorrows to be sterile, but to become a cross, that is, a means of elevating and sanctifying our souls. In fact, all suffering is transformed, changed into a cross as soon as we accept it from the hands of the Savior, and cling to His will which transforms it for our spiritual advantage. If this is true for great sufferings, it is equally true for the small ones; all are part of the divine plan, all, even the tiniest, have been predisposed by God from all eternity for our sanctification.

Therefore, let us accept them with calmness, and not allow ourselves to be submerged by things which are unpleasant; let us leave them where they belong, in the place they really occupy in the divine plan, that is, among the instruments by means of which we can attain our ideal of sanctity and union with God. If these annoyances are an evil because they make us suffer, they are also a good, because they give us an opportunity of practicing virtue; they purify us and bring us near to the Lord. However, to understand the value of the cross is not equivalent to bearing it; we need fortitude as well. If we let ourselves be guided by Jesus, He will certainly give it to us and will support us in our daily struggles and sufferings, leading us by the path He Himself has chosen, and to the degree of sanctity He has determined for each one of us.

We must have an immense confidence, advance with our eyes closed, and forget ourselves completely. We must accept the cross which Our Lord offers us and carry it with love. If, with the help of grace, we succeed in sanctifying all our daily sufferings, great and small, without losing our serenity and confidence, we shall become saints. Many souls are discouraged at the thought of suffering, and try in every way to avoid it because they do not have enough confidence in the Lord, and are not fully convinced that all is planned by Him, down to the last detail, for their real good. Every suffering, whatever its dimensions, always conceals a redemptive, a sanctifying grace; and this grace becomes ours from the moment we accept the suffering in a spirit of faith, for love of God.


“T see You, O Jesus, my Guide, raising the standard of the Cross and saying lovingly to me: ‘Take the cross I hold out to you, and no matter how heavy it seems to you, follow Me and do not doubt.’ In response to Your invitation, I promise You, O my heavenly Spouse, to resist Your love no longer. I see You as You once made Your way to Calvary, and I long to follow You promptly.

“As a spouse will not be pleasing to her bridegroom if she does not apply herself very diligently to the work of becoming like him, so, O Jesus, my Bridegroom, I resolve, now and forever, to take every care to imitate You and to crucify myself wholly with You.... I shall consider the cloister, my Calvary; the regular observance, my cross; and the three vows, my nails. I do not wish for any consolation except what comes from You, not now, but in heaven; what does it matter whether I live a happy life, so long as I live a religious life. I willingly surrender my heart to affliction, sadness, and labor. I am happy in not being happy, because fasting in this life precedes the eternal banquet which awaits me.

“All this is very little, O my God, to gain You, who contain every good. No trial should seem hard nor should I turn back because of the difficulties I might find; I wish to accept bitterness and all kinds of crosses with readiness” (cf. T.M. Sp).

“O Lord, is there, among all Your works, one which would not be directed toward the greatest good of the soul whom You consider as Yours, since she put herself at Your service, to follow You everywhere, even to the death of the Cross, resolved to help You bear Your burden and never to leave You alone?... I shall trust in Your goodness.... Lead me wherever You wish; I no longer belong to myself, but to You. Do with me, O Lord, what You wish; I ask only the grace never to offend You. I want to suffer, O Lord, because You, too, have suffered ” (cf. T.J. Life, 11).


PRESENCE OF GOD - O Lord, teach me to suffer with simplicity, without useless concentration on self, but in total abandonment to Your divine will.


1. The secret of learning to suffer in a virtuous way consists chiefly in forgetting oneself and one’s sorrows and in abandoning oneself to God.

The soul that is absorbed in its own sufferings and concentrates its whole attention on them, becomes unable to bear them serenely and courageously. “Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof” (Mt 6,34), said Jesus, thus teaching us to bear calmly, day by day, moment by moment, whatever sorrows and crosses God places in our path, with no thought of what we suffered yesterday, no worry about what we shall have to endure tomorrow. Even when our suffering is intense, let us not exaggerate it, nor attach too much importance to it; let us not foster a morbid tendency to nurture our sorrow, to ponder over it, weighing and analyzing it under every aspect. To act in this way would result in the paralysis of our spirit of sacrifice, of our ability to accept and to act, and would make us useless to ourselves and to others. One who is oversensitive and preoccupied with his own suffering, often becomes insensible and indifferent to the suffering of others.

In order to resist these selfish tendencies which have been rightly defined by Father Faber as “the worm of Christian sorrow,” we must forget ourselves, go out of ourselves and our own sufferings, become interested in the sufferings of others and endeavor to alleviate them. This is a very effective way to regain in times of discouragement the strength to bear our own crosses. We should be mindful of the truth that we are never alone in suffering; that if our sufferings are great, there are always those who suffer incomparably more than we. Our troubles, often enough, are but a drop compared to the sea of sorrows in which mankind is engulfed, and are practically nonentities in comparison with the Passion of Jesus.

Those who are overly concerned with their own troubles eventually become exasperated by them. Drowned in their sorrows, they stifle every impulse to generosity. By contrast, those who know how to forget themselves, maintain their equilibrium, and take greater thought for others than for themselves. They are always open to charity and generosity toward God and their neighbor. These are simple souls who, because they are unmindful of themselves, can bear suffering magnanimously and derive much profit for their own sanctification.

2. Despite all our efforts to escape our own misery and to forget our troubles, we may go through moments of such profound anguish, such impenetrable darkness, that our poor soul does not know how to emerge from it—especially when the horizon, instead of becoming brighter, grows darker and more threatening. At such times there is only one thing to do: to make a leap in the dark, abandoning ourselves entirely into God’s hands. We are so helpless and weak that we always need some place of refuge; if we are to forget ourselves and stop thinking about our own concerns, we shall need someone who will sustain and think of us. This Someone is God, who never forgets us, who knows all about our sufferings and our needs, who sees how weak we are, and who is always ready to come to the aid of those who take refuge in Him. Of course, we can look for a certain amount of consolation and help from creatures, but let us not deceive ourselves; people will not always understand us, nor will they always be at our disposal. But if we turn to God, we shall never be disappointed; even if He does not alter our situation or take away our troubles, He will console our hearts interiorly, in secret and in silence, and will give us the strength to persevere.

“Cast thy care upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee” (Ps 54,23). This is the attitude of abandonment which we should have in times of suffering, and which we should intensify as our sorrows increase. If our spirit of abandonment is proportionate to the depth of our sufferings, then we shall not lose their merit.

Many souls exaggerate their sufferings, dramatizing them because they cannot see God’s paternal hand in them, because their faith in His divine Providence is not sufficiently strong; and therefore, they are unable to abandon themselves to Him with complete trust. If our life and all its events, even the most painful ones, did not rest in God’s hands, we should have reason to fear; but since everything is always in His hands, our fears are groundless and we should not be dismayed. A soul who is confident in God and abandons itself to Him can remain calm in the midst of great trials, can accept even tragic occurrences with simplicity, and suffer serenely and courageously, because it is always supported by God.


“O Lord, grant that I may never cease to turn to You, and to look only at You. In consolation or desolation I shall run to You, stopping at nothing else; I shall run so quickly that I shall have no time to look at anything, nor to see the things of earth, because my pace will be so rapid. Therefore, out of love for You, I shall spurn pleasure, repose, dependence upon the judgment of men, satisfaction in their approval, dread of physical discomfort, sadness of spirit, and success or failure. In a word, I shall spurn everything that is not God.

“I realize that my crosses have been permitted and willed by You, my God, to teach me to trust in You in spite of everything.

“O God, be my sole strength in fear, weakness, and distress; be my confidant, or rather my confidence. Divine Guest, dwelling within me, on the throne of my heart, abide with me as my protector; You alone have dominion and power over my whole being; You alone are its love!

“Why should I worry or fear? All is Yours, O God, and You will take care of my wants and provide for them. You are infinite Love, and You love the works of Your hands more than they can know and love themselves. Who would dare question Your power, or the loving, providential care You bestow on Your creatures from all eternity, and with the efficacy of Your love?

“I believe that all You do and permit is for my good and my salvation, and I abandon myself to Your guidance with love and trust, and without anxiety, fear, or calculation” (BI. M. Thérése Soubiran).


PRESENCE OF GOD - Permit me, O Mary, to remain near the Cross, that I may share with you in the Passion of Jesus.


1. We find in Simeon’s prophecy the first explicit announcement of the part the Blessed Virgin was to have in the Passion of Jesus: “Thy own soul a sword shall pierce” (Lk 2,35). This prophecy was fulfilled on Calvary. “Yes, O Blessed Mother,” says St. Bernard, “a sword has truly pierced your soul. It could penetrate Your Son’s flesh only by passing through your soul. And after Jesus had died, the cruel lance which opened His side did not reach His soul, but it did pierce yours. His soul was no longer in His body, but yours could not be detached from it.” This beautiful interpretation shows us how Mary, as a Mother, was intimately associated with her Son’s Passion.

The Gospel does not tell us that Mary was present during the glorious moments of the life of Jesus, but it does say that she was present on Calvary. “Now there stood by the Cross of Jesus, His Mother, and His Mother’s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen” (Jn 19,25). No one had been able to keep her from hastening to the place where her Son was to be crucified, and her love gave her courage to stand there, erect, near the Cross, to be present at the sorrowful agony and death of the One whom she loved above all, because He was both her Son and her God. Just as she had once consented to become His Mother, so she would now agree to see Him tortured from head to foot, and to be torn away from her by a cruel death.

She not only accepted, she offered. Jesus had willingly gone to His Passion, and Mary would willingly offer Her well-beloved Son for the glory of the Most Holy Trinity and the salvation of men. That is why the sacrifice of Jesus became Mary’s sacrifice, not only because Mary offered it together with Jesus, and in Him, offered her own Son; but also because, by this offering, she completed the most profound holocaust of herself, since Jesus was the center of her affections and of her whole life. God, who had given her this divine Son, asked, on Calvary, for a return of His gift, and Mary offered Jesus to the Father with all the love of her heart, in complete adherence to the divine will.

2. The liturgy puts on the lips of Our Lady of Sorrows these touching words: “O you who pass by the way, attend and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow” (RM). Yes, her grief was immeasurable, and was surpassed only by her love, a love so great that it could encompass that vast sea of sorrow. It can be said of Mary, as of no any other creature, that her love was stronger than death; in fact, it made her able to support the cruel death of Jesus.

“Who could be unfeeling in contemplating the Mother of Christ suffering with her Son?” chants the Stabat Mater; and immediately it adds, “O Mother... make me feel the depth of your sorrow, so that I may weep with you. May I bear in my heart the wounds of Christ; make me share in His Passion and become inebriated by the Cross and Blood of your Son.” In response to the Church’s invitation, let us contemplate Mary’s sorrows, sympathize with her, and ask her for the invaluable grace of sharing with her in the Passion of Jesus. Let us remember that this participation is not to be merely sentimental—even though this sentiment is good and holy—but it must lead us to real compassion, that is, to suffering with Jesus and Mary. The sufferings God sends us have no other purpose.

The sight of Mary at the foot of the Cross makes the lesson of the Cross less hard and less bitter; her maternal example encourages us to suffer and makes the road to Calvary easier. Let us go, then, with Mary, to join Jesus on Golgotha; let us go with her to meet our cross; and sustained by her, let us embrace it willingly, uniting it with her Son’s.


“O Mary, Mother of Jesus Crucified, tell me something about His Passion, for you felt and saw it more than all the others who were present, having contemplated it with the eyes of your body and soul, and given it all the attention possible, O you who love Him with such great love” (St. Angela of Foligno).

“O Mary, grant that I may stand with you near the Cross; permit me to contemplate with you the Passion of your Jesus, and to have a share in your sorrow and tears. O holy Mother, impress deeply in my heart the wounds of the Crucified; permit me to suffer with Him, and to unite myself to your sorrows and His” (cf. Stabat Mater).

“O Queen of Virgins, you are also the Queen of Martyrs; but it was within your heart that the sword transpierced you, for with you everything took place within your soul.

“Oh, how fair you are to behold during your long martyrdom, enveloped in a majesty both strong and gentle; for you have learned from the Word how those should suffer who are chosen as victims by the Father, those whom He has elected as associates in the great work of the redemption, whom He has known and predestinated to be conformed to His Christ, crucified for love.

“You are there, O Mary, at the foot of the Cross, standing, in strength and courage; and my Master says to me, “Ecce Mater Tua.” Behold your Mother. He gives you to me for my Mother! And now that He has returned to His Father, and has put me in His place on the Cross so that I may fill up those things which are wanting of the sufferings of Christ in my flesh for His Body, which is the Church, you are still there, O Mary, to teach me to suffer as He did, to let me hear the last song of His soul which no one but you, O Mother, could overhear” (E.T. IJ, 15).

That my desire for suffering will not be sterile, help me, O sweet Mother, to recognize in each daily suffering the Cross of your Jesus and to embrace it with love.


PRESENCE OF GOD - Again I come to You, O my Crucified God, with the desire to penetrate more deeply into the mystery of the Cross.


1. The Cross is suffering viewed in the supernatural light of faith as an instrument of salvation and sanctification, and therefore, as an instrument of love. Seen in this light, the Cross is certainly worthy of love; it is the outstanding means of our sanctification. Our union with God cannot be accomplished except through suffering. St. John of the Cross has explained the means by which the soul is to be purified, scraped to the bottom in order to reach this life of divine union. A program of total mortification is required to break all our bonds, for we have within us many obstacles which keep us from being entirely moved by God; and the accomplishment of this work is impossible without suffering.

But active suffering, that is, the mortifications and penances inspired by our personal initiative, is not sufficient. We especially need passive suffering. In other words, the Lord Himself must make us suffer, not only in our body, but also in our soul, because we are so covered with rust, so full of miseries that our total purification is not possible unless God Himself intervenes directly. To plunge us into passive suffering is, therefore, one of His greatest works of mercy, a proof of His exceeding love.

When God acts in a soul in this way, it is a sign that He wants to bring it to very high perfection. It is precisely in these passive purifying sufferings that the concept of the cross is realized preeminently. In The Living Flame of Love (2,27), St. John of the Cross asks why there are so few souls who reach the plenitude of the spiritual life; and he answers: “It is not because God wants to reserve this state for a few privileged souls, but because He finds so few souls disposed to accept the hard task of purification. Therefore, He stops purifying them, and they condemn themselves to mediocrity and advance no farther.” It is impossible to become united to God without these spiritual sufferings, without bearing this “burden” of God. Suffering and interior desolation alone enlarge the powers of the soul and make it capable of embracing God Himself.

2. “O souls that seek to walk in security and comfort in spiritual things! If you did but know how necessary it is to suffer and endure in order to reach this security!” (J.C. LF, 2,28). Suffering is requisite not only for the good of the soul, but also that the soul may be able to glorify God and prove its love for Him. It is not a question of attaining perfection in order to enjoy it—for the perfect soul never thinks of self—but that the soul may be wholly dedicated to the glory of God. It is in this sense that we read on the summit of the Mount of Perfection : Only the honor and glory of God dwell on this mountain.” Even as the Cross of Jesus was for Him the great means of rendering to the Father the glory that sinful man had refused Him, so should it be in regard to our cross : by means of suffering, we should expiate and repair our faults and the faults of others, in order to give God all the glory due Him.

In addition, as the Cross of Jesus was the supreme proof of His love for us, our cross too, should be the finest proof of our love for Him. The Son of God has revealed His infinite love for us by His death on the Cross; in like manner, the reality of our love is made apparent by the acceptance of sufferings out of love for Him. The Cross is, therefore, both the instrument and the work of love, as much that of God’s love for us as that of our love for Him.

The more God sanctifies us, the more He proves His love for us and gives us the opportunity of glorifying Him; but He sanctifies us only by means of the Cross—the great Cross of Jesus to which we must unite our little cross.

Our sanctification, then, is proportionate to our experience of the Passion of Christ. Sufferings are, even in this sense, a proof of God’s love for us. If we understood all this, how we should love the Cross!


“O Lord, the road of trials is the way by which You lead those You love, and the more You love them, the more trials You send them, since You admit to Your friendship only souls that love the Cross.... If You asked me whether I should prefer to endure all the trials in the world up to the end of time, and afterwards to gain a little more glory, or to have no trials and to attain one degree less of glory, I should answer that I would most gladly accept all the trials in exchange for a little more fruition in the understanding of Your wonders, for I see that the more we know You, the more we love and glorify You.

“No, I do not wish to make anything of passing troubles, when it is a question of procuring some glory for You who suffered so much for us.

“If I want to know, O my God, how You act toward those who beg You from the bottom of their heart to accomplish Your will in them, I have only to ask Your glorious Son, who addressed the same prayer to You in the Garden of Olives.... You fulfilled this wish in Him by giving Him up to all kinds of sorrows, insults, and persecutions, leaving Him finally to die on the Cross. This is what You gave the One whom You loved above all others. As long as we are in this world, these are Your gifts. You proportion them according to Your love for us; You give more to those You love more, and less to those You love less. You also give according to the courage You find in each of us, and according to our love for You, for if we love You much, we shall be able to suffer much for You; whereas if we love You only a little, we will suffer little” (T.J. Way, 18 — Life, 37 — Way, 3332).

O my God, increase my love, dilate my poor heart and make it able to endure much for love of You. I shall willingly accept suffering, in order to prove to You the reality of my love.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre

PRESENCE OF GOD - O Jesus, I want to follow You in Your triumph, so that I may follow You later to Calvary.


1. Holy Week begins with the description of the triumphal entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem on the Sunday before His Passion. Jesus, who had always been opposed to any public manifestation and who had fled when the people wanted to make Him their king (cf. Jn 6,15), allows Himself to be borne in triumph today. Not until now, when He is about to die, does He submit to being publicly acclaimed as the Messiah, because by dying on the Cross, He will be in the most complete manner Messiah, Redeemer, King, and Victor. He allows Himself to be recognized as King, but a King who will reign from the Cross, who will triumph and conquer by dying on the Cross. The same exultant crowd that acclaims Him today will curse Him in a few days and lead Him to Calvary; today’s triumph will be the vivid prelude to tomorrow’s Passion.

Jesus enters the holy city in triumph, but only in order to suffer and die there. Hence, the twofold meaning of the Procession of the Palms: it is not enough to accompany Jesus in His triumph; we must follow Him in His Passion, prepared to share in it by stirring up in ourselves, according to St. Paul’s exhortation (Ep; Phil 2,5-11), His sentiments of humility and total immolation, which will bring us, like Him and with Him, “ unto death, even to the death of the Cross.” The palms which the priest blesses today have not only a festive significance; they also “ represent the victory which Jesus is about to win over the prince of death” (RM). For us too, they must be symbols of triumph, indicative of the victory to be won in our battle against the evil in ourselves and against the evil which roams about us. As we receive the blessed palm, let us renew our pledge to conquer with Jesus, but let us not forget that it was on the Cross that He conquered.

2. Jesus submits to being borne in triumph, but with what meekness and humility! He knows that His enemies are hiding among the people who are singing the hosanna, and that they will succeed in changing that hosanna into crucify Him! He knows it, and He could impose Himself upon them in all the power of His divinity; He could unmask them publicly and disclose their plans. However, Jesus does not wish to conquer or to rule by force; His kingdom is founded on love and meekness. The Evangelist says this very aptly: “Tell ye the daughter of Sion : Behold, thy King cometh to thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass” (Mt 21,5). With the same meekness, He, the Innocent One, the only true King and Conqueror, will consent to appear as a criminal, a condemned and conquered man, a mock king. In this way, however, from the throne of the Cross He will draw all things to Himself.

As the joyful procession advances, Jesus sees the panorama of Jerusalem spread out at His feet. St. Luke says (19,41-44) : “When He drew near, seeing the city, He wept over it, saying, ‘If thou also hadst known, and that in this thy day, the things that are to thy peace!... Thy enemies...shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation.’” Jesus weeps at the obstinacy of the holy city which, because it has not recognized Him as the Messiah and has not accepted His Gospel, will be destroyed to its foundations. Jesus, true God, is also true man, and as man He is moved with compassion because of the sad fate which Jerusalem has prepared for itself by its obstinate resistance to grace. He goes to His Passion and will even die for the salvation of Jerusalem, but the holy city will not be saved because it has not wished to be, “ because it did not know the time of its visitation.” This is the story of so many souls who resist grace; it is the cause of the most profound and intimate suffering of the benevolent heart of Jesus. Let us give Our Lord the joy of seeing us profit to the full by the merits of His sorrowful Passion, by all the Blood which He has shed. When we resist the invitations of grace, we are resisting the Passion of Jesus and preventing it from being applied to us in its plenitude.


“O Jesus, I contemplate You in Your triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. Anticipating the crowd which would come to meet You, You mounted an ass and gave an admirable example of humility in the midst of the acclamations of the crowd who cut branches of trees and spread their garments along the way. While the people were singing hymns of praise, You were filled with pity and wept over Jerusalem. Rise now, my soul, handmaid of the Savior, join the procession of the daughters of Sion and go out to meet your King. Accompany the Lord of heaven and earth, seated on an ass; follow Him with olive and palm branches, with works of piety and with victorious virtues ” (cf. St. Bonaventure).

O Jesus, what bitter tears You shed over the city which refused to recognize You! And how many souls, like Jerusalem, go to perdition on account of their obstinate resistance to grace! For them I pray with all my strength. “My God, this is where Your power and mercy should be shown. Oh! what a lofty grace I ask for, O true God, when I conjure You to love those who do not love You, to answer those who do not call to You, to give health to those who take pleasure in remaining sick!... You say, O my Lord, that You have come to seek sinners. Here, Lord, are the real sinners. But, instead of seeing our blindness, O God, consider the precious Blood which Your Son shed for us. Let Your mercy shine out in the midst of such great malice. Do not forget, Lord, that we are Your creatures, and pour out on us Your goodness and mercy ” (T.J. Exc, 8).

Even if we resist grace, O Jesus, You are still the Victor; Your triumph over the prince of darkness is accomplished, and humanity has been saved and redeemed by You. You are the Good Shepherd who knows and loves each one of His sheep and would lead them all to safety. Your loving heart is not satisfied with having merited salvation for the whole flock; it ardently desires each sheep to profit by this salvation.... O Lord, give us then, this good will; enable us to accept Your gift, Your grace, and grant that Your Passion may not have been in vain.


PRESENCE OF GOD - O Lord, with Mary of Bethany I wish to pay my humble, devout homage to Your sacred Body before it is disfigured by the Passion.


1. The Gospel for today (Jn 12,1-9) tells us of this impressive scene: “Jesus therefore, six days before the Pasch, came to Bethany... and they made Him a supper there; and Martha served.... Mary, therefore, took a pound of ointment of right spikenard, of great price, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair.” Martha, as usual, was busy about many things. Mary, however, paid attention only to Jesus; to show respect to Him, it did not seem extravagant to her to pour over Him a whole vase of precious perfume. Some of those present murmured, “ Why this waste? Could not the ointment have been sold...and the price given to the poor?” And they murmured against her (cf. Mk 14,4.5). Mary said nothing and made no excuses; completely absorbed in her adored Master, she continued her work of devotion and love.

Mary is the symbol of the soul in love with God, the soul who gives herself exclusively to Him, consuming for Him all that she is and all that she has. She is the symbol of those souls who give up, in whole or in part, exterior activity, in order to consecrate themselves more fully to the immediate service of God and to devote themselves to a life of more intimate union with Him. This total consecration to the Lord is deemed wasteful by those who fail to understand it—although the same offering, if otherwise employed, would cause no complaint. If everything we are and have is His gift, can it be a waste to sacrifice it in His honor and, by so acting, to repair for the indifference of countless souls who seldom, if ever, think of Him?

Money, time, strength, and even human lives spent in the immediate service of the Lord, far from being wasted, reach therein the perfection of their being. Moreover, by this consecration, they conform to the proper scale of values. Giving alms to the poor is a duty, but the worship and love of God is a higher obligation. If urgent works of charity sometimes require us to leave His service for that of our neighbor, no change in the hierarchy of importance is thereby implied. God must always have the first place. Jesus Himself then comes to Mary’s defense: “Let her be, that she may keep this perfume against the day of My burial.” In the name of all those who love, Mary gave the sacred Body of Jesus, before it was disfigured by the Passion, the ultimate homage of an ardent love and devotion.

2. In St. John’s Gospel it is clearly stated that the murmurings about Mary’s act were uttered by Judas Iscariot. The sinister face of the traitor appears darker still beside that of the loyal Mary: physically, he is still numbered among the Twelve, but spiritually, he has been cut off from them for a long time. Ever since the previous year, when the Master had told them about the Eucharist, Judas was lost. Referring to him on one occasion, Jesus had said, “Have not I chosen you twelve; and one of you is a devil” (Jn 6,71). Judas had been chosen by Jesus with a love of predilection; he had been admitted to the group of His closest friends and, like the eleven others, had received the great grace of the apostolate. In the beginning, he must have been faithful; but later, attachment to worldly things and avarice began to take possession of him, so as to completely chill his love for the Master and transform the Apostle into a traitor. Because of His divine foreknowledge, Jesus had expected the treachery; and yet, since Judas had been originally worthy of His trust, He had placed him on an equal footing with the other members of the apostolic college. Subsequently, although he had already become a liar, Jesus continued to treat him like the others, showing him the same love and esteem. This was very painful to the sensitive heart of Jesus, but He would not act otherwise, He wished that we might see with what love, patience, and delicacy He treats even His most stubborn enemies. How many times must the Master have tried to enlighten that darkened mind! Certainly, He was thinking of Judas when He mind!

Certainly, He was thinking of Judas’ worldly goods: “You cannot serve God and mammon.... What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of His own soul?” (Mt 6,24—16,26). However, these words, which should have been an affectionate reprove to the traitor, did not touch him. Judas represents those souls who have received from God graces of predilection, but who prove to be unworthy of them, because of their infidelities. _Consecrated souls must, therefore, be very faithful to the grace of their vocation and must not permit the slightest attachment to take root in their hearts.


Here are two paths, Lord, as diametrically opposed as possible: one of fidelity and one of betrayal, the loving fidelity of Mary of Bethany, the horrible treachery of Judas. O Lord, how I should like to offer You a heart like Mary’s! How I should like to see the traitor in me entirely dead and destroyed!

But You tell me: “Watch ye, and pray that you enter not into temptation!” (Mk 14,38). Oh! how necessary it is for me to watch and pray, so that the enemy will not come to sow the poisonous germs of treason in my heart! May I be faithful to You, Lord, faithful at any cost, in big things as well as in small, so that the foxes of little attachments will never succeed in invading and destroying the vineyard of my heart!

“Lord Jesus, when I meditate on Your Passion, the first thing that strikes me is the perfidy of the traitor. He was so full of the venom of bad faith that he actually betrayed You—You, his Master and Lord. He was inflamed with such cupidity that he sold his God for money, and in exchange for a few vile coins delivered up Your precious Blood. His ingratitude went so far that he persecuted even to death Him who had raised him to the height of the apostolate.... O Jesus, how great was Your goodness toward this hard-hearted disciple! Although his wickedness was so great, I am much more impressed by Your gentleness and meekness, O Lamb of God! You have given me this meekness as a model. Behold, O Lord, the man whom You allowed to share Your most special confidences, the man who seemed to be so united to You, Your Apostle, Your friend, the man who ate Your bread, and who, at the Last Supper, tasted with You the sweet cup, and this man committed this monstrous crime against You, his Master! But, in spite of all this at the time of betrayal, You, O meek Lamb, did not refuse the kiss of that mouth so full of malice. You gave him everything, even as You gave to the other Apostles, in order not to deprive him of anything that might melt the hardness of his evil heart” (cf. St. Bonaventure).

O Jesus, by the atrocious suffering inflicted on Your heart by that infamous treachery, grant me, I beg of You, the grace of a fidelity that is total, loving, and devoted.


PRESENCE OF GOD - O Jesus, give me the grace to penetrate the abyss of sorrow made by sin in Your heart, so full of meekness.


1. In the Epistle of today’s Mass, Jeremias (11,18-20) speaks to us as the suffering Savior: “I was as a meek lamb that is carried to be a victim.” This sentence expresses the attitude of Jesus toward the bitterness of His Passion. He knew every one of these sufferings in all their most concrete particulars; His heart had undergone them by anticipation, and the thought of them never left Him for an instant during the course of His life on earth. If the Passion, in its historical reality, took place in less than twenty-four hours, in its spiritual reality it spanned His entire life.

Jesus knew what was awaiting Him, His heart was tortured by it; and yet He not only accepted but ardently desired that hour, “ His hour”; and He gave Himself into the hands of His enemies with the meekness of a lamb being led to the slaughter. “I have left My house,” He says again through the mouth of Jeremias. “...I have delivered My beloved soul into the hands of My enemies” (RB). Judas betrayed Him, His enemies dragged Him before the tribunal, they condemned Him to death, they tortured His body horribly; but Jesus, even in His Passion, remained always God, remained always the Master, the Lord. “I have power to lay down My life and to take it up again,” says the liturgy in today’s Vespers (RB). Jesus went to His Passion “ because it was His own will” (Is 53,7). He willed it because, as He Himself said, “This is the command which I have received from My Father ” (Jn 10,18).

However, His ardent desire for the Passion did not prevent Him from tasting all its bitterness. “The sorrows of death have encompassed me.... Insults and terrors I have suffered from those who called themselves my friends.... God of Israel, because of You, I have suffered opprobrium, and shame has covered my face” (RB). Let us try to sound the depths of these sacred texts which we read in today’s liturgy, in order that we may have a better understanding of the most bitter Passion of Christ.

2. Today at Mass we read the Passion as recounted by Mark, Peter’s disciple (14,32-72—15,1-46). No other Evangelist has described so minutely the denial of Peter; it is the humble confession which the chief of the Apostles makes of himself through the mouth of his disciple. During the Last Supper, when Jesus predicted that the Apostles would desert Him that very night, Peter had protested with all the vigor of. his ardent temperament: “Although all shall be scandalized in Thee, yet not I!” In vain did the Master foretell his desertion, outlining it in detail: “Even in this night, before the cock crows twice, thou shalt deny Me thrice.” An overweening confidence in himself had blinded Peter to the truth of Jesus’ words, to the possibility of his own weakness. “Although I should die together with Thee, I will not deny Thee.” Peter was sincere in his protestation, but he sinned through presumption; the practical experience of human misery and frailty, by which no one, even the most courageous, can remain faithful to duty without divine aid, was lacking to him. His initial steps along this road would be taken in Gethsemane, when he, like the others, would be unable to watch “one hour” with the Master. Further, at the time of Jesus’ arrest, he would flee away trembling with fear. But these two episodes would not be enough to cure him of his presumption; he would need a third, the saddest of all.

In the courtyard of Caiphas’ palace, where, having recovered from his first fright, Peter had gone to watch the turn of events, he was recognized by a maid as a disciple of Jesus. Seized by the fear of being involved in the Master’s trial, he denied the accusation immediately, saying, “I know Him not.” Having fallen once, he had difficulty in recovering himself, and when questioned again, he made a second, even a third denial. “As he was yet speaking, the cock crew, and the Lord turning, looked on Peter.” That crowing of the cock, and much more, that look full of love and sorrow, made him enter into himself, “and going out, he wept bitterly” (Lk 22,62). The blindfold of presumption fell from his eyes; and Peter, who sincerely loved Jesus, acknowledged his weakness, his fault. The loving glance of the Master had saved him. Because Peter no longer relied on himself, Jesus could rely upon him and would entrust His flock to him. The lesson is clear. As long as a soul depends solely upon itself, it is not ready to be sanctified, nor to cooperate efficaciously in the sanctification of others.


“O Lord of my soul, how quick we are to offend You! But how much quicker are You to forgive us! What am I saying, Lord! ‘The sorrows of death have encompassed me.’ Alas! What a great evil is sin, since it could put God Himself to death with such terrible sufferings! And these same sufferings surround You today, O my Lord! Where can You go that You are not tortured? Men cover You with wounds in all Your members.

“Christians, this is the hour to defend your King and to keep Him company in the profound isolation in which He finds Himself. How few, O Lord, are the servants who remain faithful to You!... The worst of it is that there are some who profess to be Your friends in public, but who sell You in secret. You can scarcely find one in whom You can trust. O my God, true Friend, how badly does he repay You who betrays You!

“O true Christians, come to weep with your God! It was not only over Lazarus that He shed tears of compassion, but over all those who, in spite of His call, would never rise from the dead. At that time, my Love, You saw even the sins that I would commit against You. May they be at an end, and with them, those of all sinners. Grant that these dead may come to life. May Your voice, Lord, be strong enough to give them life, even if they do not ask it of You. Lazarus did not ask You to bring him back to life, and yet You restored life to him at the prayer of a sinner. Here is another sinner, my God, and much more culpable than she was. Let, then, Your mercy shine forth! I ask it of You in spite of my wretchedness, for those who will not ask” (T.J. Exc, 10).


PRESENCE OF GOD - O suffering Jesus, grant that I may read in Your Passion Your love for me.


1. Today’s Mass contains two lessons from Isaias (62,11 ~ 63,1-7 — 53,1-12) which describe in a very impressive way the figure of Jesus, the Man of Sorrows. It is the suffering Christ who presents Himself to us, covered with the shining purple of His Blood, wounded from head to foot. “Why then is Thy apparel red, and Thy garments like theirs that tread in the winepress? I have trodden the winepress alone, and of the Gentiles there is not a man with Me.” All alone Jesus trod the winepress of His Passion. Let us think of His agony in the Garden of Olives, where the vehemence of His grief covered all His members with a bloody sweat.

Let us think of the moment when Pilate, after having Him scourged, brought Him before the mob, saying: “Behold the Man!” Jesus stood there, His head crowned with thorns, His flesh lacerated by the whips; the brilliant red of His Blood mingled with the purple of His cloak, that cloak of derision with which the soldiers had clothed their mock king. Christ was offering Himself as a sacrifice for men, shedding His Blood for their salvation,
and men were abandoning Him. “I looked about and there was none to help; I sought, and there was none to give aid” (RM). Where were the sick whom He had cured, the blind, who at the touch of His Hand had recovered their sight, the dead who were raised to life, the thousands whom He had miraculously fed with bread in the wilderness, the wretched without number who in countless ways had experienced His goodness? Before Jesus there was only an infuriated mob clamoring: Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Even the Apostles, His most intimate friends, had fled; indeed one of them had betrayed Him: “If he that hated Me had spoken great things against Me, I would perhaps have hidden Myself from him! But thou, a man of one mind, My guide, and My familiar, who didst take sweetmeats together with Me” (Ps 54,13.14). We read these words today, as on all the Wednesdays of the year, in the psalms of Terce. To this text which is so deeply expressive of the bitterness Jesus felt when betrayed and abandoned by His own, there is a corresponding response at Matins: “Instead of loving Me, they decried Me, and returned evil for good, and hate in exchange for My love” (RB). As we contemplate Jesus in His Passion, each one of us can say to himself, dilexit me, et tradidit semetipsum pro me, He loved me, and delivered Himself for me (Gal 2,20); and it would be well to add, “How have I repaid His love?”

2. Jesus is singularly worthy of the gratitude and fidelity of men. No one has ever done more for them than He; yet no one has suffered more than He the bitterness of ingratitude and treachery.

Let us review for a moment the prologue of St. John’s Gospel, which presents Jesus to us in all His divine Majesty, in the eternal splendor of the Word, the “true light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world.” Compare it then with the lesson from Isaias (2nd lesson of the Mass), which describes the opprobrium and ignominy to which His Passion has reduced Him. The result should be a deeper understanding of the two great truths that emerge: the exceeding charity with which Jesus has loved us, and the enormous gravity of sin.

Of Him, the Son of God, it was written: “There is no beauty in Him, nor comeliness: and we have seen Him, and there was no sightliness that we should be desirous of Him: despised and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows.... His look was, as it were, hidden.” He has no beauty, He who is the splendor of the Father. He seeks to hide His face, He, the sight of whose face is the beatitude of the angels and saints. He is so disfigured that He seems like a leper, so abject that no account is made of Him. To this pitiable condition our sins have reduced Him. “Surely He hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows” —infirmities and sorrows are the consequences of sin— “He was wounded for our iniquities and bruised for our sins.... The Lord took all our iniquity upon Himself.”

The consideration of the horror of sin should throw into relief the other great truth of the Passion; namely, the inexpressible love of Christ. This love made Him willingly accept His Passion; and having accepted it because “He willed it,” He did not evade His enemies, but freely gave Himself into their hands. Let us recall the moment when Jesus, by His divine power, cast to the ground the soldiers who had come to arrest Him, and having said that, if He wished, He could have legions of angels to defend Him, allowed them to take and bind Him without any resistance. Let us remember that, when He was taken prisoner and condemned, He did not hesitate to say to the Roman governor, “Thou shouldst not have any power against Me, unless it were given thee from above” (Jn 19,11). Jesus is the victim. He goes willingly to be sacrificed; He immolates Himself lovingly, with sovereign liberty. We touch here the summit of love, the summit of liberty, for we speak of the love and the liberty of God.


“O sweet Jesus, I understand what You must be feeling! O good Jesus, meek and loving! You suffered martyrdom by the many wounds caused by the scourging and the nails. You were crowned with thorns. How many, O good Jesus, were they who struck You! Your Father struck You, since He did not spare You, but made You a victim for all of us. You struck Yourself when You offered Your soul to death, that soul which cannot be taken from You against Your will. The disciple who betrayed You with a kiss struck You too. The Jews struck You with their hands and feet, and the Gentiles struck You with whips and pierced You with nails. Oh! how many people, how many humiliations, how many executioners!

“And how many gave You over! The heavenly Father gave You for us, and You gave Yourself, as St. Paul joyfully says: 'He loved me and delivered Himself up for me.'

“What a marvelous exchange! The Master delivers Himself for a slave, God for man, the Creator for the creature, the innocent One for the sinner. You put Yourself into the hands of the traitor, the faithless disciple. The traitor handed You over to the Jews. The wicked Jews delivered You to the Gentiles to be mocked, scourged, spit upon, and crucified. You had said these things; You had foretold them, and they came to pass. Then, when all was accomplished, You were crucified and numbered among the wicked. But it was not enough that You were wounded. To the pain of Your wounds, they added other ignominies and, to slake Your burning thirst, they gave You wine mixed with myrrh and gall.

“I weep for You, my King, my Lord, and Master, my Father and Brother, my beloved Jesus ” (St. Bonaventure).


PRESENCE OF GOD - O Jesus, grant that I may fathom the immensity of that love which led You to give us the Eucharist.


1. “Having loved His own...He loved them unto the end” (Jn 13,1-15), and in those last intimate hours spent in their midst, He wished to give them the greatest proof of His love. Those were hours of sweet intimacy, but also of most painful anguish. Judas had already set the price of the infamous sale; Peter was about to deny his Master; all of them within a short time would abandon Him. The institution of the Eucharist appeared then as the answer of Jesus to the treachery of men, as the greatest gift of His infinite love in return for the blackest ingratitude. The merciful God would pursue His rebellious creatures, not with threats, but with the most delicate devices of His immense charity. Jesus had already done and suffered so much for sinful man, but now, at the moment when human malice is about to sound the lowest depths of the abyss, He exhausts the resources of His love, anc offers Himself to man, not only as the Redeemer, who will die for him on the Cross, but also as the food which will nourish him. He will feed man with His own Flesh and Blood; moreover, death might claim Him in a few hours, but the Eucharist will perpetuate His real, living presence until the end of time. “O You who are mad about Your creature!” exclaimed St. Catherine of Siena, “ true God and true Man, You have left Yourself wholly to us, as food, so that we will not fall through weariness during our pilgrimage in this life, but will be fortified by You, celestial Nourishment!”

Today’s Mass is, in a very special way, the commemoration and the renewal of the Last Supper, in which we are all invited to participate. Let us enter the Church and gather close around the altar as if going into the Cenacle to gather around Jesus. Here we find, as did the Apostles at Jerusalem, the Master living in our midst, and He Himself, through the person of His minister, will renew once again the great miracle which changes bread and wine into His Body and Blood; He will say to us, “Take and eat...take and drink.”

It was Jesus Himself who made the arrangements for the Last Supper, choosing “a large room” (Lk 22,12), and bidding the Apostles to prepare it suitably. Our hearts, dilated and made spacious by love, must also be a “large” cenacle, where Jesus may come and worthily celebrate His Pasch.

2. During the Last Supper and coincident with His gift of the Sacrament of love, Jesus also left us His testament of love—the living, concrete testament of His admirable example of humility and charity in the washing of the Apostles’ feet, and His oral testament in the proclamation of His “new commandment.” The Gospel of today’s Mass (Jn 13,1-15) shows us Jesus, as the Master, washing the Apostles’ feet; it ends with His words: “I have given you an example, that as I have done, you also may do.” It is an urgent invitation to that fraternal charity which should be the fruit of union with Jesus, the fruit of our Eucharistic Communion. He mentioned it in precise words at the Last Supper: “A new commandment I give unto you: ‘that you love one another’ as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (ibid. 13,34).

If we cannot imitate the love of Jesus by giving our body as food to our brethren, we can imitate Him at least by giving them loving assistance, not only in agreeable circumstances, but also in difficult and disagreeable ones. By washing His disciples’ feet, the Master shows us how far we should humble ourselves to render a service to our neighbor, even were he most lowly and abject. The Master, who, by unceasing proofs of His love, advances to meet ungrateful men and even those who have betrayed Him, teaches us that our charity is far from His unless we repay evil with good, forgive everything, and are even willing to repay with kindness those who have done us harm. ‘The Master, who gave His life for the salvation of His own, tells us that our love is incomplete if we cannot sacrifice ourselves generously for others. His “new commandment,” which makes the love of Jesus Himself the measure of our fraternal love, opens up unlimited horizons for the exercise of charity, for it means charity without limits. If there is a limit, it is that of giving, like the Master, one’s life for others, for “ greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (ibid. 15,13). Jesus revealed to us the perfection of fraternal charity on the same evening that He instituted the Eucharist, as if to indicate that such perfection should be both the fruit of the Sacrament of the Eucharist and our response to this great gift.


“O Lord, Lord, how small and narrow is the house of my soul for You to enter! Enlarge it Yourself. It is in ruins; repair it. I know and admit that there are things in it that are offensive in Your sight. But who will cleanse it? Or to whom but You shall I cry, purify me, Lord, from my hidden sins?” (St. Augustine).

“O good Jesus, to sustain our weakness and to stir up our love, You have chosen to remain always in our midst, although You well foresaw the way that men would treat You and the shame and outrages from which You would have to suffer. O eternal Father, how could You permit Your Son to live with us, to endure fresh insults every day? O my God! What great love in that Son! and also, what great love in that Father!

“But how, eternal Father, couldst Thou consent to this? How canst Thou see Thy Son every day in such wicked hands?... How canst Thy mercy, day by day, and every day, see Him affronted? And how many affronts are being offered today to this most Holy Sacrament! How often must Thou see Him in the hands of His enemies!

“O eternal Father! Surely all these scourgings and insults and grievous tortures will not be forgotten.... Could it be that He failed to do something to please Thee? No, He fulfilled everything.... Has He not already more than sufficiently paid for the sin of Adam?

“O Holy Father who art in Heaven, if Thy divine Son has left nothing undone that He could do for us in granting sinners so great a favor as that of the Blessed Sacrament, do not permit Him to be so ill-treated. Since Thy holy Son has given us this excellent way in which we can offer Him up frequently as a sacrifice, let us make use of this precious gift so that it may stay the advance of such terrible evil and irreverence as in many places is paid to this most holy Sacrament” (cf. T.J. Way, 33-3-35).


PRESENCE OF GOD - O Jesus, permit me to penetrate with You into the depths of the mystery of the Cross.


1. Good Friday is the day which invites us more than any other to “enter into the thicket of the trials and pains. ..of the Son of God” (J.C. SC*, 35,9), and not only with the abstract consideration of the mind, but also with the practical disposition of the will to accept suffering voluntarily, in order to unite and assimilate ourselves to the Crucified. By suffering with Him, we shall understand His sufferings better and have a better comprehension of His love for us, for “the purest suffering brings with it the most intimate and the purest understanding” (ibid., 36,12); and “no one feels more deeply in his heart the Passion of Christ than one who has suffered something similar” (Imit. IT, 12,4). With these dispositions let us accompany our Lord during His last day on earth.

The atrocious martyrdom, which within a few hours will torture His body, has not yet begun, and yet the agony of Jesus in the Garden of Olives marks one of the most sorrowful moments of His Passion, one which best reveals the bitter sufferings of His soul. His most sacred soul finds itself immersed in inexpressible anguish; it is extreme abandonment and desolation, without the slightest consolation, either from God or from man. The Savior feels the weight of the enormous burden of all the sins of mankind; He, the Innocent One, sees Himself covered with the most execrable crimes, and made, as it were, the enemy of God and the target of the infinite justice which will punish all our wickedness in Him. Of course, as God, Jesus never ceased, even in the most painful moments of His Passion, to be united to His Father; but as man, He felt Himself rejected by Him, “ struck by God and afflicted” (Jn 53,4).

This explains the utter anguish of His spirit, much more sorrowful than the dreadful physical sufferings which await Him; explains the cruel agony which made Him sweat blood; explains His complaint, “My soul is sorrowful even unto death” (Mt 26,38). Whereas before He had so ardently desired His Passion, now that His humanity finds itself facing the hard reality of the fact, deprived of the sensible help of the divinity, which seems not only to withdraw, but even more, to be angry with Him, Jesus groans: “My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me!” But this anguished cry of human nature is immediately lost in that of the perfect conformity of Christ’s will to the Father’s: “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (ibid. 26,39).

2. The Agony in the Garden is followed by the treacherous kiss of Judas, the arrest, the night passed in the interrogations by the high priests and insults from the soldiers who strike Jesus, spit in His face and blindfold Him, while in the outer court, Peter is denying Him. At dawn they commence anew the questionings and accusations; the going back and forth from one tribunal to another begins—from Caiphas to Pilate, from Pilate to Herod, and back again to Pilate—followed by the horrible scourging and the crowning with thorns. Finally, clothed as a mock king, the Son of God is presented to the mob which cries out: “Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas”; for Jesus, the Savior, the crowd can only shout: “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” (Lk 23,18-21). Loaded down with the wood for His torture, Jesus is led away to Calvary where He is crucified between two thieves. These terrible physical and mental sufferings reach their climax when the Savior, in agony on the Cross, utters the cry: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Mt 27,46).

Here again we are in the presence of the inner struggle which tortures the soul of Christ, and now accompanies, with rapid crescendo, the intense increase of His physical sufferings. Jesus had said to His Apostles at the Last Supper, in speaking of His approaching Passion: “Behold, the hour cometh...[when] you shall be scattered...and shall leave Me alone; yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me” (Jn 16,32). Union with the Father is everything to Jesus; it is His life and His strength, His comfort and His joy. If men desert Him, the Father is always with Him, and that is sufficient for Him. This fact gives us a better understanding of the intensity of His sufferings when, in the course of His Passion, the Father withdraws from Him. Yet, even in His agony and death on the Cross, Jesus is always God, and therefore always indissolubly united to the Father. However, He has taken upon Himself the heavy burden of our sins, which stand like a moral barrier between Him and the Father. Although personally united to the Word, His humanity is, by a miracle, deprived of all divine comfort and support, and feels instead the weight of all the malediction due to sin: “Christ,” says St. Paul, “has redeemed us from the curse ... being made a curse for us” (Gal 3,13).

Here we touch the most profound depths of the Passion of Jesus, the most atrocious bitterness which He embraced for our salvation. Yet, even in the midst of such cruel torments, the last words of Jesus are an expression of total abandonment: “Father, into Thy Hands I commend My spirit” (Lk 23,46). Thus Jesus, who willed to taste to the dregs all that is bitter for man in suffering and dying, teaches us to overcome the anxieties and anguish caused in us by sorrow and death, by acts of complete submission to the will of God and trustful abandonment into His hands.


“O Christ, Son of God, as I contemplate the great sufferings You endured for us on the Cross, I hear You saying to my soul : ‘ It is not in jest that I have loved you!’ These words open my eyes, and I see clearly all that Your love has made You do for me. I see that You suffered during Your life and death, O Man-God, suffered because of that profound, ineffable love. No, O Lord, it was not in jest that You loved me, but Your love is perfect and real. In myself, I see the opposite, for my love is lukewarm and untrue, and this grieves me very much.

“O Master, You did not love me in jest; I, a sinner, on the contrary, have never loved You except imperfectly. I have never wanted to hear about the sufferings You endured on the Cross, and thus [ have served You carelessly and unfaithfully.

“Your love, O my God, arouses in me an ardent desire to avoid anything that might offend You, to embrace the grief and contempt that You bore, to keep continually in mind Your Passion and death, in which our true salvation and our life are found.

“O Lord, Master, and eternal Physician, You freely offer us Your Blood as the cure for our souls, and although You paid for it with Your Passion and death on the Cross, it costs me nothing, save only the willingness to receive it. When I ask for it, You give it to me immediately and heal all my infirmities. My God, since You agreed to free me and to heal me on the one condition that I show You, with tears of sorrow, my faults and weaknesses; since, O Lord, my soul is sick, I bring to You all my sins and misfortunes. There is no sin, no weakness of soul or mind for which You do not have an adequate remedy, purchased by Your death.

“All my salvation and joy are in You, O Crucified Christ, and in whatever state I happen to be, I shall never take my eyes away from Your Cross ” (St. Angela of Foligno).


PRESENCE OF GOD - O Jesus, crucified for love of me, show me the victory won by Your death.


1. As soon as Jesus expired, “the veil of the Temple was torn in two...the earth quaked, the rocks were rent. And the graves were opened; and many bodies... arose,” so that those who were present were seized with a great fear and said: “Indeed this was the Son of God” (Mt 27,51-54). Jesus willed to die in complete ignominy, accepting to the very end the mocking and ironic challenges of the soldiers, “If Thou be Christ, save Thyself” (Lk 23,39); but scarcely had He drawn His last breath, when His divinity revealed itself in such a powerful manner that it impressed even those who, up to that moment, had been jeering at Him. Christ’s death began to show itself for what it really was, that is, not a defeat but a victory: the greatest victory that the world would ever witness, the victory over sin, the victory over death, which was the consequence of sin, the victory, which restored to man the life of grace.

In offering us the Cross for adoration yesterday, the Church sang: “Behold the wood of the Cross, on which hung the salvation of the world,” and after the mournful alternations of the Improperia, or tender reproaches, she intones a hymn of praise in honor of the Cross: “Sing, my tongue, the noble triumph whose trophy is the Cross, and the victory won by the immolation of the Redeemer of the world!” Thus consideration of the Lord’s sufferings and compassion for them alternate with the hymn of victory. The supreme paradox of death and life, of death and victory reach a unity in Jesus, in such a way that the first is the cause of the second. St. John of the Cross, describing the agony of Jesus on the Cross, affirms: “ He wrought herein the greatest work that He had ever wrought, whether in miracles or in mighty works, during the whole of His life, either upon earth or in Heaven, which was the reconciliation and union of mankind, through grace, with God. And this, as I say, was at the moment and the time when this Lord was most completely annihilated in everything. Annihilated, that is to say, with respect to human reputation; since, when men saw Him die, they mocked Him rather than esteemed Him; and also with respect to nature, since His nature was annihilated when He died; and further with respect to the spiritual consolation and protection of the Father, since at that time He forsook Him....” And he concludes: “Let the truly spiritual man understand the mystery of the gate and of the way of Christ, and so become united with God, and let him know that, the more completely he is annihilated for God’s sake, according to these two parts, the sensual and the spiritual, the more completely he is united to God and the greater is the work which he accomplishes” (AS I, 7,11).

2. “In peace in the selfsame I will sleep, and I will rest.” These opening words of Matins of Holy Saturday refer to the peace of the tomb, where, after so many torments, the sacred Body of Jesus rests. Indeed, this day is meant to be one of recollection in silence and prayer beside the sepulcher of the Lord.

After the death of Jesus, frightened by the earthquake and the darkness, all had left Calvary except the little group of faithful ones: Our Lady and St. John, who were never away from the Cross, and Mary Magdalen and the other pious women who “ had followed Jesus from Galilee ministering unto Him” (Mt 27,55). Although Our Lord had died, they could not tear themselves away from Him, their adored Master, the object of all their love and hope. It was their love that kept them near the lifeless Body. This is a sign of real fidelity, to persevere even in the darkest and most painful moments, when all seems lost, and when a friend, instead of triumphing, is reduced to defeat and profound humiliation. It is easy to be faithful to God when everything goes smoothly, when His cause triumphs; but to be equally faithful in the hour of darkness, when, for a time, He permits evil to get the upper hand, when everything that is good and holy seems to be swept away and irrevocably lost—this is hard, but it is the most authentic proof of real love.

Two disciples, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, took charge of the burial. The sacred Body was taken down from the Cross, wrapped in a sheet with spices, and laid “in a new tomb” which Joseph “had hewed out in a rock [for himself]” (Mi 27,60). Together with Mary, who must certainly have been present at the scene and received the lacerated Body of her divine Son into her arms, let us also draw near to the sacred remains; let us gaze on these wounds, on these bruises, on this Blood, all of which speak so eloquently of Jesus’ love for us. It is true that these wounds are no longer painful, but glorious; and tomorrow, at the Easter dawn, we shall celebrate the great victory which they have won. However, though glorified, they remain and will remain forever the indelible marks of the exceedingly great charity with which Christ loves us.

May this Saturday, a day of transition between the agony of Friday and the glory of the Resurrection, be a day of prayer and recollection near the lifeless body of Jesus; let us open wide our heart and purify it in His Blood, so that renewed in love and purity, it can vie with the “new sepulcher” in offering the beloved Master a place of peace and rest.


“Hail, O Cross, our only hope! You increase grace in the souls of the just and remit the faults of sinners. O glorious resplendent tree, decked in royal purple, on your arms hangs the price of our Redemption, in you is our victory, our ransom!” (cf. RB).

“O Christ, I glance again at Your bloodstained face, and I raise my tear-filled eyes to see Your wounds and bruises. I lift my contrite, afflicted heart, to consider all the tribulations You have endured in order to seek me and to save me.

“O good Jesus, how generously have You given us, on the Cross, all You had! To Your executioners, Your loving prayer; to the thief, Paradise; to Your Mother, a son, and to the son, a Mother; to the dead, You gave back life, and You placed Your soul in Your Father’s hands; You showed Your power to the entire world, and shed, through Your wide and numerous wounds, not a few drops, but all Your Blood, to redeem a slave!... O meek Lord and Savior of the world, how can we thank You worthily?

“O good Jesus, You bow Your crowned Head, pierced by many thorns, inviting me to the kiss of peace. ‘See,’ You say to me, ‘how disfigured, torn, and annihilated I am! Do you know why? To lift you up, O wandering sheep, to put you on My shoulder, and bring you to the heavenly pasture in Paradise. Now return My Love. Behold Me in My Passion. Love Me. I gave Myself to you; give yourself to Me.’ O Lord, I am grief-stricken at the sight of Your wounds; I want You to rule over me, just as You are, in Your Passion. I want to set You as a seal upon my heart, as a seal on my arm, to make me conformable to You and Your martyrdom in all I think and do.

“O good and gentle Jesus! You who gave Yourself to us as a ransom for our redemption, grant that we, unworthy though we be, may correspond with Your grace, entirely, perfectly, and in all things ” (St. Bonaventure).
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre



PRESENCE OF GOD - O risen Jesus, make me worthy to share in the joy of Your Resurrection.


1. “This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us be glad and rejoice therein” (RB). This is the most excellent day, the happiest day in the whole year, because it is the day when “Christ, our Pasch, has been sacrificed.” Christmas, too, is a joyous feast, but whereas Christmas vibrates with a characteristic note of sweetness, the Paschal solemnity resounds with an unmistakable note of triumph; it is joy for the triumph of Christ, for His victory. The liturgy of the Mass shows us this Paschal joy under two aspects : joy in truth (Ep: 1 Cor 5,7.8) and joy in charity (Postcommunion).

Joy in truth: According to the vibrant admonition of St. Paul, “Let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven... but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” In this world there are many ephemeral joys, based on fragile, insecure foundations; but the Paschal joy is solidly grounded on the knowledge that we are in the truth, the truth which Christ brought to the world and which He confirmed by His Resurrection. The Resurrection tells us that our faith is not in vain, that our hope is not founded on a dead man, but on a living one, the Living One par excellence, whose life is so strong that it vivifies, in time as in eternity, all those who believe in Him. “I am the Resurrection and the Life; he that believeth in Me, although he be dead, shall live” (Jn 11,25). Joy in truth: for only sincere and upright souls who seek the truth lovingly and, still more, “ do the truth” can fully rejoice in the Resurrection. We are sincere when we recognize ourselves for what we are, with all our faults, deficiencies, and need for conversion. From this knowledge of our miseries springs the sincere resolve to purify ourselves of the old leaven of the passions in order to be renewed completely in the risen Christ.

Truth, however, must be accomplished in charity—veritatem facientes in caritatem, doing the truth in charity (Eph 4,15); therefore the Postcommunion prayer that is placed on our lips is more timely than ever: “Pour forth upon us, O Lord, the spirit of Thy love, to make us of one heart.” Without unity and mutual charity there can be no real Paschal joy.

2. The Gospel (Mk 16,1-7) places before our eyes the faithful holy women who, at the first rays of the Sunday dawn, run to the sepulcher, and on the way, wonder: “Who will roll back the stone from the door of the sepulcher for us?” This preoccupation, although it is well justified on account of the size and weight of the stone, does not deter them from proceeding with their plans; they are too much taken up with the desire of finding Jesus! And behold! hardly have they arrived when they see “the stone rolled back.” They enter the tomb and find an Angel who greets them with the glad announcement: “He is risen; He is not here.” At this time, Jesus does not let Himself be found or seen; but a little later when, in obedience to the command of the Angel, the women leave the tomb to bring the news to the disciples, He will appear before them saying, “All hail!” (Mt 28,9), and their joy will be overwhelming.

We, too, have a keen desire to find the Lord; perhaps we have been seeking Him for many long years. Further, this desire may have been accompanied by serious preoccupation with the question of how we might rid ourselves of the obstacles and roll away from our souls the stone which has prevented us thus far from finding the Lord, from giving ourselves entirely to Him, and from letting Him triumph in us. Precisely because we want to find the Lord, we have already overcome many obstacles, sustained by His grace; divine Providence has helped us roll away many stones, overcome many difficulties. Nevertheless, the search for God is progressive, and must be maintained during our whole life. For this reason, following the example of the holy women, we must always have a holy preoccupation about finding the Lord, a preoccupation which will make us industrious and diligent in seeking Him, and at the same time confident of the divine aid, since the Lord will certainly take care that we arrive where our own strength could never bring us, because He will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Every year Easter marks a time of renewal in our spiritual life, in our search for God; every year we reascend the path toward Him in novitate vitae, in newness of life (Rom 6,4).


“Lord Jesus, good and gentle Jesus, who deigned to die for our sins and to rise for our justification, I beg You, by Your glorious Resurrection, to bring me out of the sepulcher of my vices and sins, so that I may merit to have a real share in Your Resurrection. O most kind Lord, who ascended to Heaven in the triumph of Your glory and are seated at the right hand of the Father, You who are all-powerful, raise me up to You, so that I may run in the odor of Your ointments, run without slackening, while You call and guide me. My soul thirsts; draw me to the divine spring of eternal satiety; lift me out of the abyss toward this living spring, so that I may drink as much as I can of it, and live on it forever, O my God, my Life.

“I pray You, Lord, give my soul the wings of an eagle, that I may fly without weakening, fly, until I reach the splendor of Your glory. There, You will feed me on Your secrets at the table of the heavenly citizens, in the place of Your Pasch, near the celestial fount of eternal satiety. Let my heart rest in You, my heart which resembles a great ocean, agitated by tumultuous waves.

“When shall I see You, O precious, long-desired, amiable Lord? When shall I appear before Your face? When shall I be satiated with Your beauty? When will You take me out of this dark prison, that I may confess Your Name, without being confused any longer? What shall I do, a wretch loaded down with the chains of my human condition? What shall I do? As long as we are in the body, we are journeying toward the Lord. We have not here a lasting dwelling, but we seek a future city, for our homeland is in heaven. 

“As long as I carry about with me these fragile members, give me the grace, O Lord, to cling to You, for he who adheres to the Lord is one spirit with Him ” (St. Augustine).


PRESENCE OF GOD - Do not leave me, O Jesus, gentle Pilgrim; I have need of You.


1. God has made us for Himself, and we cannot live without Him; we need Him, we hunger and thirst for Him; He is the only One who can satisfy our hearts. The Easter liturgy is impregnated with this longing for God, for Him who is from on high; it even makes it the distinctive sign of our participation in the Paschal mystery. “If you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God; mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth” (Col. 3,1.2). The more the soul revives itself in the Resurrection of Christ, the more it feels the need of God and of heavenly truths; it detaches itself more and more from earthly things to turn toward those of heaven.

Just as physical hunger is an indication of a living, healthy organism, so spiritual hunger is a sign of a robust spirit, one that is active and continually developing. The soul which feels no hunger for God, no need to seek Him and to find Him, and which does not vibrate or suffer with anxiety in its search, does not bear within itself the signs of the Resurrection. It is a dead soul, or at least one which has been weakened and rendered insensible by lukewarmness. The Paschal alleluia is a cry of triumph at Christ’s Resurrection, but at the same time it is an urgent invitation for us to rise also. Like the sound of reveille, it calls us to the battles of the spirit, and invites us to rouse and renew ourselves, to participate ever more profoundly in Christ’s Resurrection. Who can say, however advanced he may be in the ways of the spirit, that he has wholly attained to his resurrection?

2. We read in today’s Gospel the very beautiful story of the disciples at Emmaus (Lk 24,13-35). Here we find the earnest supplication: “Stay with us, because it is towards evening, and the day is now far spent.”

Stay with us, Lord! It is the cry of the soul who has found its God and never again wishes to be separated from Him. Let us too, as the disciples at Emmaus, go in search of the Lord. Our whole life is a continuous journey toward Him, and we are often sad, even as they were, because we do not succeed in finding Him, because, not understanding His mysterious ways, it seems that He has abandoned us. “We hoped that it was He that should have redeemed Israel...but...,” said the two disciples, frustrated by the death of Jesus, and not perceiving that Jesus, at the very moment when they were about o relinquish all hope, was there close to them, disguised as their fellow traveler. We have often shared this experience of Him. Hidden in the obscurity of faith, God draws near our soul, makes Himself our traveling companion, and still more, lives in us by grace.

It is true that here below He does not reveal Himself in the clarity of the “face to face” vision which is reserved for eternity; we see Him only as “through a glass in a dark manner” (1 Cor 13,12); nevertheless, God knows how to make Himself known. To us as to the disciples at Emmaus, His presence is revealed in an obscure manner; yes, but unmistakably, because of the unique ardor which He alone can kindle in our hearts. “Was not our heart burning within us whilst He spoke in the way?” The soul who has found the Lord, even but once in this manner, not outside itself, but within itself, living and acting in its heart, cannot fail to direct to Him the cry: “Stay with me!”

Yet this cry is already heard, it is already a permanent reality, because God always dwells with a soul in the state of grace. God is always with us, even when we do not feel Him, even when we do not notice His presence. God is there, God remains with us; it is for us to remain with Him. If at certain moments He permits Himself to be recognized by our soul, He does so just to invite us to dwell with Him in His intimacy. Let us, therefore, beg Him ardently: teach us, O Lord, to stay with You, to live with You.


“O my hope, my Father, my Creator, true God and Brother, when I think of what You said—that Your delights are to be with the children of men—my soul rejoices greatly. O Lord of heaven and earth, how can any sinner, after hearing such words, still despair? Do You lack souls in whom to delight, Lord, that You seek so unsavory a worm as I?... O what exceeding mercy! What favor far beyond our deserving!

“Rejoice, O my soul...and since the Lord finds His delights in you, may all things on earth not suffice to make you cease to delight in Him and rejoice in the greatness of your God.

“I desire neither the world, nor anything that is worldly; and nothing seems to give me pleasure but You; everything else seems to me a heavy cross.

“O my God, I am afraid, and with good reason, that You may forsake me; for I know well how little my strength and insufficiency of virtue can achieve, if You are not always granting me Your grace and helping me not to forsake You. It seems to me, my Lord, that it would be impossible for me to leave You.... But as I have done it so many times I cannot but fear, for when You withdraw but a little from me I fall utterly to the ground. But blessed may You be forever, O Lord! For though I have forsaken You, You have not so completely forsaken me as not to raise me up again by continually giving me Your hand.... Remember my great misery, O Lord, and look upon my weakness, since You know all things” (T.J. Exc, 7 — Life, 6).


PRESENCE OF GOD - O Lord, may I always seek You alone, and seeking You, may I have the grace to find You.


1. In the Masses of Easter week the Gospels recount the various apparitions of the risen Jesus; the first, and one of the most moving, is that to Mary Magdalen (Jn 20,11-18). In this episode Mary appears with her characteristic trait, that of a soul completely possessed by the love of God. When she reaches the sepulcher, she has scarcely seen “the stone rolled away,” before she is seized with one only anxiety: “They have taken away my Lord.” Who could have taken Him? Where could they have put Him? She repeats these questions to everyone she meets, supposing that they are filled with a like apprehension. She tells it to Peter and John who come running to see for themselves; she tells it to the Angels, and she tells it even to Jesus. The other women, finding the sepulcher open, go in to find out what has happened, but Magdalen runs off quickly to bring the news to the Apostles. Then she returns. What will she do near that empty tomb? She does not know, but love has impelled her to return, and it keeps her at the place where the body of the Master had been, the body that she wants to find at any cost.

She sees the Angels, but she does not marvel or become frightened like the other women; she is so possessed by her grief that there is no room in her soul for other emotions. When the Angels ask her: “Woman, why weepest thou?” she has only one answer: “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him.” Later, Jesus asks her the same question and Mary, absorbed in her same thoughts, does not even recognize Him, but “thinking that it was the gardener,” she says to Him: “Sir, if thou hast taken Him hence, tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will take Him away.” The thought of finding Jesus so occupies her mind that she does not even feel the need of giving His name; it seems to her that everyone must be thinking of Him, that everyone would understand immediately—as though everyone were in the same state of mind as she.

When love of God and desire for Him have taken full possession of a soul, there is no longer room in it for other loves, other desires, other preoccupations. All its movements are directed to God, and through all things the soul does nothing but seek God alone.

2. “If a soul seeks for God, her Beloved seeks for her even more” (J.C. LF, 3,28). Mary sought with much love, and lo! the Lord Himself seeks her, and seeks her calling, “Mary!” Although He has risen gloriously, Jesus is always the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep individually; and He “calleth His own sheep by name... and the sheep follow Him because they know His voice” (Jn 10,3.4). When Mary hears her name, she recognizes the Lord and cries: “Rabboni! Master!”

Once again Mary is at the feet of Jesus, her favorite place. We saw her in the same attitude at Bethany, while Martha was busy preparing the meal. We remember her in the house of Simon the leper, the Saturday before the Passion, when she broke the vase of precious ointment, pouring it over the feet of Jesus, bathing those feet with her tears and wiping them with her hair. We met her again at the foot of the Cross, unwilling to tear herself away from the Crucified. Always it is the same ardent love which makes her forgetful, makes her indifferent to everything else. Mary seeks only the Lord, she wants Him and Him alone; the rest does not interest her, does not concern her.

She wanted to clasp those sacred feet again and remain there in loving contemplation, but Jesus said to her gently: “Do not touch Me!” Without doubt the Lord reveals Himself and gives Himself to the soul that seeks Him, but at the same time He always remains God, the Most High, the Inaccessible: “Do not touch Me!” Although admitted to divine intimacy, the soul should not lose the sense of the transcendence of God, and of the infinite distance that lies between the creature and the Creator, between the one who is not and the One who is. Thus, the nearer the soul comes to God, the more it realizes this infinite distance, and together with confidence and love, there is born in it a profound sentiment of reverence for the supreme majesty of God.

“Whom seekest thou?” It is to each one of us, as to Mary Magdalen, that Jesus addresses this question today. Can we reply that we are seeking Him alone? Jesus appeared to Mary who “loved Him much” before appearing to the other holy women. If we wish to find the Lord quickly, we must Jove Him much and seek Him with great love.


“O Lord Jesus Christ, how good, blissful and desirable it is to feel the violence of Your love! Ah! enlighten my heart every day with the rays of this love, dissipate the darkness of my mind, illuminate the secret places in my heart, strengthen and inflame my intellect, and rejoice and fortify my soul! Oh! how tender is Your mercy, how great and sweet Your love, O Lord Jesus Christ. You lavish Your love to be enjoyed by those who love none but You, and who think of nothing but You! Loving us first, You invite us to love You; You delight us and draw us, so great is the power of Your love. Nothing invites us, nothing delights and attracts us more than this kind attention of love; the heart, which at first was torpid, feels itself inflamed; and the heart that is fervent, when it knows it is loved and has been loved by You, it becomes still more ardent.

“O most loving Lord Jesus Christ, although You have loved me inexpressibly, I, a wicked sinner, enclosing in my bosom a heart of stone and iron, have not recognized Your burning love; and even though I desired Your affection, I did not want to love You. Deign, then, to come to my aid, O most merciful Lord Jesus Christ, and by the violence of Your most sweet love, force my rebellious soul to love You, so that I may serve You in peace and attain the unending life of love” (Ven. R. Giordano).


PRESENCE OF GOD - O Jesus, my soul thirsts for You, the source of living water; grant that I may draw near You and drink!


1. Jesus stated on several occasions that He was the fountain of living water for all who believed in Him, and He invited souls to draw near this spring because, as He said to the Samaritan woman, “ He that shall drink of the water that I will give him, shall not thirst forever ” (Jn 4,13). The most solemn invitation to drink from this fountain, however, was given by Jesus, during the last year of His ministry, to the crowd which thronged the Temple on the Feast of Tabernacles. Standing erect in the midst of the crowd, He said in a loud voice: “If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink. He that believeth in Me... within him shall flow rivers of living water ” (ibid. 7,37-38). The thirst of which Jesus was speaking is the thirst for truth, for justice, the thirst for peace and true happiness, and above all the thirst for God, the keen, ardent desire for Him.

The soul who has tried to drink at the spring of earthly delights has found that they do not serve to quench its thirst; instead, if they have given the soul a tiny drop of truth, justice, peace, and joy, they have left it more thirsty than before. Only then does the soul understand that God alone is the fountain which can quench its thirst. But what is this water of which Jesus declares that He is the source and which He promises to all? It is the life-giving water of grace, the only water capable of quenching our thirst for the infinite, because, by making us sharers in the divine nature, it permits us to enter into intimate relations with God; it permits us to live with the Trinity dwelling in our soul; in a word, it opens the door to divine intimacy.

St. John Chrysostom teaches: “When the grace of the Holy Spirit enters a soul and is established there, it gushes forth more powerfully than any other spring; it neither ceases, dries up, nor is exhausted. And the Savior, to signify this inexhaustible gift of grace, calls it a spring and a torrent; He also calls it gushing water, to indicate its force and impetus.” The power of grace is so great that it can cast the soul into God and bring it to divine intimacy and union, first in this life, by faith and love, and then in heaven, by the Beatific Vision.

2. Mortification frees the soul from every obstacle which might retard the growth of grace, which might hinder the soul’s love for God and its flight toward Him; whereas prayer which consists essentially in intimate conversation with God feeds this love and quickens this flight. Mortification prepares a suitable place for a loving meeting with God; prayer effects this meeting, and by placing the soul in real contact with God, the source of living water, it quenches its thirst and reanimates it. It is in this sense that the saints, and particularly the contemplative saints, have always seen in the living water promised by Jesus, not only sanctifying grace, but also those special graces of light and love which are its consequences and which the soul attains to in prayer, in the moments of intimate contact with God. This light and love are not the fruit of the activity of the soul alone; but rather, God Himself, by means of the actuation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, infuses them into the soul, causing it to acquire a completely new “sense” of God. This does not mean new ideas and concepts, but rather an experimental knowledge derived from love—especially from the love which God Himself awakens in the soul. It means a profound “sense” of the divinity, by means of which the soul becomes aware—not by reasoning or demonstration, but more by way of experience—that God is so different from creatures, so unique, so great, that He truly deserves all the love of the heart. This new way of loving God, this new experience of God and divine things is really living water which quenches the soul’s thirst. It is the living water of prayer, which, as a result of divine action, has now become deeper, more intimate, more contemplative; it is the living water of contemplation. This contemplation is a gift of God. “ He gives it,” says St. Teresa of Jesus, “when and as He wishes” (Life, 34). Although He offers it to all, in one form or another, He will grant it only to those souls who apply themselves generously to mortification and prayer.


“O Truth, light of my soul, do not permit the darkness to frighten me. You have allowed me to walk in it, and now I am in obscurity. But even from the darkness, yes, even from there, I have loved You. I have sinned, and I have remembered You. I have heard Your voice behind me, inviting me to come back; I heard it with difficulty because of the noise of my rebellious passions. Here I am again at Your spring, burning with thirst. Let nothing hold me back henceforth! Let me drink at Your spring, and live....

“As the heart pants after the fountain, so does my soul sigh for You, Lord! My soul thirsts for You, O God, the living source; when shall I go to appear in Your presence?’ O fount of life, vein of living water, when shall I reach the waters of Your sweetness in this desert land, dry and full of rocks, and see Your power and glory, and quench my thirst with the waters of Your mercy? I thirst, O Lord, I thirst for You, living fountain....

“O fire that ever burns and is never consumed, enkindle me! O Light that shineth ever and is never veiled, illumine me! Oh! if I could only burn with Your flame, O sacred fire! How gently You burn; how secretly You shine; how wonderful it is to be enkindled by You! Woe to those who do not burn with Your love! Woe to those who are not illumined by You, O true Light that enlighteneth every man, O Light that filleth the world with Your brightness!

“I give You thanks, who illumine me and deliver me, for You have enlightened me and I have known You. Late have I known You, O ancient Truth; late have I known You, O eternal Truth! You were in the light and I was in darkness, and I did not know You, for I had no light without You, and without You, there is no light!” (St. Augustine).


PRESENCE OF GOD - O Lord, I answer Your invitation, I run to Your fountain, quench my thirst!


1. Commenting on the invitation of Jesus: “If any man thirst, let him come to Me, and drink” (Jn 7,37), St. Teresa of Avila says, “ Consider that the Lord calls everyone. Now, He is Truth itself, we cannot doubt His word. If His invitation were not addressed to all, He would not call all of us.... But, as He puts no restriction on it...I am certain that all who do not stop on the way will drink this living water” (Way, 19). Therefore, it is not amiss for an interior soul to aspire to contemplation; in fact, it would be logical, since the Lord offers it to everyone, and since contemplation is a great means of introducing us into divine intimacy, of making us understand and enjoy the infinite greatness of God, of filling us with love for Him, and of quenching all thirst for earthly things. If Jesus has offered this living water to all souls, and if it is so precious, why should we not desire it?

However, the Saint instructs us to desire it without pretension, in humility and full abandonment to the divine will. God alone is Master of His gifts, and it is His privilege to distribute them to souls in the form and amount, and at the time He wishes. “ God gives them as He wishes, when He wishes, and to whom He wishes, without prejudice to anyone” (Int C IV, 1). St. Teresa clarifies any mistaken ideas we may have in this regard. To demand the favor of contemplation from God, would be exposing ourselves to illusions and deceptions. Besides, it would be a true sin of pride to interfere with the divine plans. Nevertheless, when a soul gives itself generously to God, He, who never lets Himself be outdone in generosity, will not refuse it at least a few sips of the living water which He offers to everyone.

2. “God does not force anyone,” says St. Teresa of Jesus, “but to those who follow Him, He gives them to drink in many ways, so that none may lack comfort or die of thirst” (Way, 20). This tells us that there are many forms and degrees of contemplation. In order to give us a better understanding of this, the Saint compares contemplation to “an abundant fountain from which spring many streams, some small, others large, and there are also little pools” (ibid.). The Lord invites everyone and gives water to all, but He does not reveal to us from what kind of stream we are called to drink. He does not tell us at what moment of our life we shall drink, and much less is He obliged to make us drink from a big stream rather than from a little one.

There have been saints, like Teresa of Jesus, who drank abundantly; there have been others, like Thérése of Lisieux, who have partaken only of a tiny rivulet, and yet both types have attained sanctity. Just as several streams may rise from the same source and all contain the same water, although they are not all of the same size, so there are many varied forms of contemplation: some are sweet, others arid; some give great clarity and ineffable sweetness, while others are obscure, even painful, although no less useful to the soul. Despite the varying degrees, it is essentially the same life-giving water which plunges the soul into God, makes it penetrate the divine mystery, and makes it understand the All of God and the nothingness of the creature; it is the same life-giving water which opens the way to divine intimacy and conducts the soul to sanctity.

Yes, God gives “to whom He wishes, as He wishes, when He wishes.” This statement concerns the form and the degree of contemplation, as well as the time when it will be granted, all of which depends solely on God. However, St. Teresa assures us that God never refuses this life-giving water to anyone who “seeks it in the right way.” Therefore, it depends on us, too, and our part consists in disposing ourselves in such a way that God will not find us unworthy of His gifts.


“O compassionate and tender Sovereign of my soul! You also say: ‘If anyone thirst, let him come to Me, and I will give him to drink.’

“Oh! how our souls need this water! I know, O my God, that out of Your bounty You will give it to us. You Yourself have promised it, and Your words cannot fail. Knowing our weakness, You, in Your mercy, have increased Your help. But You have not said, ‘ Let some come this way and others that way.’ On the contrary, Your bounty is so great that You have not forbidden anyone to drink from this fountain of life. Be forever blessed for this! How justly could You have forbidden me! But since you did not bid me go away from this fountain when I had begun to slake my thirst there, nor cast me into the abyss, You certainly will not drive anyone away from it. You call all souls with a loud voice.

“O Lord, You told the Samaritan woman that he who drinks of this water will not thirst forever. Oh! How true are these words spoken by You, Truth itself! The soul who drinks this water never thirsts for the things of this life, but it does thirst more and more with the desire to possess You and a desire for eternal things. How it thirsts to have this thirst which brings with it a sweetness which softens its difficulties, for as it quenches the desire for the things of earth, it fills the soul with celestial goods. When, O God, You condescend to quench our thirst with this water, one of the greatest graces You can give the soul is to still leave it thirsting. Every time it drinks this water, it always ardently desires to drink still more of it.

“This water is so potent that it always increases the fire of Your love. O great God! how marvelous is the fire which is enkindled more and more by water, a water which activates the fire of love in souls!

“O Lord, give me to drink of this water, and I shall never thirst again! O my Lord! How good it is for me to be engulfed in this living water, and to lose my life in it! O You who have promised it to us, give us the grace to seek it as we should” (T.J. Exc, g - Way, 20 — 19).


PRESENCE OF GOD - O Lord, make me generous and faithful in Your service; grant that I may never put an obstacle to Your action in me.


1. The fount of living water, from which springs the loving experience of God and contemplative light, is really the operation of the Holy Spirit acting in the soul by the actuation of His gifts. Since at Baptism we have all received the gifts of the Holy Spirit—those supernatural dispositions that make us capable of receiving the divine activity—it is clear that God has given them to us, not that they may remain inoperative, but that they may be put into action. Hence their actuation cannot be considered extraordinary, but connatural; and this to such a point that the loving experience of God and the contemplative light which comes from it cannot be considered extraneous to the full development of grace. In other words, if a soul opens itself generously to the action of grace, if it seconds this action with all good will, it can well think that the Lord will not refuse to give it at least a few drops of living water, that is, some form of contemplative knowledge. St. Teresa strongly affirms this and says, “We must not be afraid that we shall die of thirst. On this road, the water of consolation never fails” (Way, 20); but we must understand that the “road” of which the Saint speaks is the road of total giving, of unlimited generosity which never says, “This is too much,” of generosity which gives itself without counting the cost, and perseveres in spite of the hardships on the road, the interior aridity, and the exterior difficulties.

If it be right that a soul who feels itself called to divine intimacy appreciate and long for contemplation, it cannot be wrong for it to try to prepare itself for it. Many souls are refused this grace by God simply because He does not find them suitably disposed. It is, therefore, necessary for us to work, so that we shall not be deprived of contemplation through our own fault. On the other hand, if we have done all that depends on us as best we can, we should not fear that our work will be wasted; sooner or later, in one way or another, the Lord will always give us to drink.

2. In speaking of the spiritual atmosphere in which contemplation usually flourishes, Teresa of Jesus suggests, first of all, an intense practice of virtue, especially total detachment and profound humility. We must note that she does not mean any kind of practice, but exacts that it be a very generous practice, and even requires that it be really heroic. The reason is this: as contemplation is a free gift of God, it requires generosity on our part. Souls who are not generous are precisely the ones who will never experience it. This is always the great principle which the Saint inculcates: “God refuses to force our will; He takes what we give Him. But He will not give Himself wholly until we have given ourselves wholly to Him” (Way, 28).

In addition to this atmosphere of generosity, there is also required a gentle and constant application to recollection and prayer. The more a soul knows how to be recollected in God, making its prayer and its vital contact with Him always more intimate and profound, the more apt it will be to receive the divine motions. Here then, in synthesis, is what our preparation ought to be : on the one hand, an intense exercise of mortification, abnegation, and detachment —and this is the practice of the virtues '—and on the other hand, an intense application to the life of prayer.

Of course, in preparing for contemplation, we do not intend to make it the end of our spiritual life. The goal is always love, for sanctity consists essentially in the perfection of charity. Nevertheless, contemplation is a very potent means of bringing us quickly to the plenitude of love, and it is for this reason that we desire it. Our life is a journey toward God, a continual tending, a continual directing of all our energies toward Him. Happy the soul who is strongly attracted to God! Her way is much quicker and easier. This is the great help which contemplation, properly speaking, gives us. Summarily then, we understand that we must prepare ourselves for it, not to enjoy its sweetness, but to enter fully into the way of divine intimacy, into the way of perfect love, since nothing can direct us toward God and His glory as much as this loving experience and contemplative light which are the essence of contemplation.


“My God, if You desire to enter my soul to find Your delight in it and to shower it with blessings, there is only one thing necessary: the soul must be simple, pure, and desirous of receiving You. But if, instead of clearing the way, we place many obstacles in it, how can You enter? How do we expect You to give us Your graces?

“It is really astonishing! We are still full of faults and imperfections, virtue has scarcely taken root in us—and please God that it has begun!—we are barely able to walk; yet we are not ashamed to complain about aridity and to look for consolation in prayer!

“But Lord, You know better than I what is good for me; I do not have to advise You what to give me, because You could justly tell me that I do not know what I am asking. I want to give myself to prayer and to prepare myself to receive Your gifts; my one ambition must be to work, with all the diligence possible, to strengthen this resolution and to be ready to conform my will to Yours. O my God, You have taught me that the highest perfection to be attained in the spiritual way consists in this. The more perfect this conformity is, the more You will overwhelm me with favors and the more progress I shall make” (T.J. Life, 8Int C II, 1). Grant, then, O Lord, that I may make generous resolutions, and give myself unreservedly to You, without any division. You are waiting for this, so that You may come and finish Your work.

“I am Yours, O my God! Do what You wish with me and lead me by whatever path suits You. If, with Your help, I am really humble and detached from everything, You will not fail to grant me the gift of prayer, and many others in addition, which will far exceed my desires ” (cf. T.J. Int CIV, 2).


PRESENCE OF GOD - O Lord, I come to ask of You the true spirit of prayer.


1. Prayer is essentially an intimate conversation with God in which the soul seeks His presence, so that it may speak with Him in a friendly and affectionate way. It is a child talking with its Father, a friend conversing with his Friend. From its very nature, then, prayer is something intimate and interior. “For me,” said St. Thérése of the Child Jesus, “prayer is an uplifting of the heart, a glance toward heaven, a cry of gratitude and of love in times of sorrow as well as of joy” (St, 11). In this perspective we must understand the traditional definition of prayer: elevatio mentis ad Deum, the raising of the mind to God, and not only the mind, but also, and especially, the heart. Prayer may be a silent movement of the mind, or simply a cry, a request, a colloquy; in these latter motions are verified the other aspects of prayer: pia locutio ad Deum, a pious conversation with God, and petitio decentium a Deo, a confident request for His graces.

Whatever form it takes, true prayer is not complicated or constrained; it is the breath of the soul that loves its God, the habitual attitude of the heart which tends toward God. The soul seeks Him, wants to live with Him, knows that every benefit, every help, comes from Him. Thus, spontaneously, without even thinking about it, the soul passes from the simple elevation toward God to the prayer of petition or to intimate colloquy, to arrive finally at the transport of the heart, the glance toward heaven. Prayer understood in this way is always possible, in all kinds of circumstances and in the midst of varying occupations; furthermore, for a soul who really loves God, it would be as impossible for it to interrupt prayer as it would be for it to stop breathing. We can thus understand how everyone, even those living in the world, can fulfill the words of the Gospel: “Pray always” (Lk 18,1). The one condition necessary is to have a heart capable of loving; the stronger and more vigorous this love is, the deeper and more continuous will the prayer be.

2. Although it may be a simple matter, it is not always easy to pray and to pray well. It is an art to be learned by studying the various forms and methods of prayer, or better still, by diligently applying ourselves to prayer itself. While the essence of prayer is always the interior movement, the elevation of mind and heart to God, the forms of it differ: there is vocal prayer and mental prayer, discursive prayer and affective prayer, private prayer and liturgical prayer. We employ one or another of these, in conformity with what is required by our duties. Thus, for example, all Christians are bound to certain vocal and liturgical prayers, such as morning and evening prayers, attendance at Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation; but after that, we are free to choose, according to the particular attraction of the moment, special circumstances, or individual needs. All these forms are good and serve to nourish our love for God, provided that we really put ourselves in touch with Him. We should always be careful about this point, because it is the substance of prayer; and if this were lacking, the form would be useless, and God could say of us: “This people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me” (Mi 15,8).

However, a soul aspiring to divine intimacy will turn spontaneously toward a wholly interior form of prayer, a form which will facilitate an intimate contact with God, a silent, profound union. All forms of prayer will assume this special characteristic of interiority. ‘Therefore, through vocal and liturgical prayer, as well as through mental prayer, the soul will make its way toward God and dispose itself for an ever-increasing intimacy with Him, until God Himself, by means of the loving experience and the contemplative light, will introduce it into a prayer which is more profound and capable of immersing it in Him.


“Grant, O good Jesus, that my soul may always fly toward You, that my entire life may be one continual act of love. Make me understand that any work which is not done in Your honor is a dead work. Grant that my piety may not become just a habit, but a continual elevation of my heart!

“O my Jesus, supreme Goodness, I ask of you a heart so enraptured with You that nothing can distract it. I wish to become indifferent to everything that goes on in the world, and to want You alone, to love everything that refers to You, but You above everything else, O my God! And my spirit, O Lord, my spirit—grant that it may be zealous in seeking You and may succeed in finding You, O sovereign Wisdom!” (St. Thomas).

O Lord, give me a heart which will love You, seek You uncompromisingly, always long for You, and have no other desire than to be closely united to You.

“May my soul languish and sigh for You; my heart and my senses cry eagerly for You, O living God. As the sparrow has found herself a house, and the turtledove a nest, so do I long to dwell near Your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God! Blessed are they that dwell in Your house, O Lord, and who pray to You always!” (cf. Ps 83,1-5). I also, from morning until night, wish to chant in the temple of my heart hymns of praise and love in Your honor, O Most High God, who condescend to dwell in me. If my tongue is silent or occupied with other discourses, if my mind and body are busy working, my heart is always free to love You and to turn toward You at every instant, in every action. O Lord, I beg this great grace of You: may I always seek You in the depths of my soul and unite myself to You in the affection of my heart.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre

PRESENCE OF GOD - O Jesus, I come to You like Thomas; grant that I may not be unbelieving, but faithful.


1. Today’s liturgy is concerned in a very special way with the newly baptized, who, at the close of Easter week, laid aside the white garments which they had received at the baptismal font. It is actually to them that St. Peter addressed his affectionate recommendation which we read in the Introit of the Mass : “ As newborn babes, desire the pure spiritual milk.” These words continue to express the maternal solicitude of the Church for the children whom she has regenerated in Christ, and especially for the newly born. We, too, are the object of this solicitude. Although we were baptized as infants, we can say that every Easter regenerates us in Christ by means of our spiritual resurrection in Him. Therefore, we also must be like “newborn babes,” in whom there is no malice, deceit, pride, or presumption, but only candor and simplicity, confidence and love. ‘This is a wonderful invitation to the spiritual childhood which Jesus told us is an indispensable condition for attaining salvation: “Unless you be converted and become as little children, you shall not enter into the
kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18,3). Each wave of grace purifies and cleanses our soul from sin and its roots, giving us rebirth to a new life in Christ, a pure, innocent life, which craves only “ the pure spiritual milk” of the doctrine of Christ, His love and His grace. ‘Today, however, the Church wishes to turn our desires in a very special way toward faith : that faith which makes us cling to Jesus so as to be taught by Him, and nourished and guided toward eternal life. The Master’s words upon which we meditated last week are equally appropriate here : “ He that believeth in Me... from within him shall flow rivers of living water... springing up into life everlasting” (Jn 7,38-4,14). Let us draw near to Jesus with the simple, sincere faith of a little child, and He will give us the abundance of His grace as a pledge of eternal life.

2. Today’s Gospel (Jn 20,19-31) has the particular value of strengthening us in our faith. Thomas’ doubt confirms us in the faith, for as St. Gregory says, “His disbelief was more useful to us than the faith of the other Apostles.” If he had not doubted, no man would have “put his finger in the wounds of the nails, nor his hand into the side” of Our Lord. Jesus had pity on the tottering faith of the Apostle, and on ours, too; and He allowed him not only to see Him, as He had allowed the others, but also to touch Him, thereby permitting Thomas, the incredulous, to do what He had not permitted Mary Magdalen, the most faithful one. From this incident we derive a better understanding of God’s ways. Whereas He gives sensible consolations and more or less palpable signs of His presence to souls who are still wavering in the faith, He often leads by very obscure paths those who have irrevocably given themselves to Him and on whose faith He can count. God is a Father. He never denies to any soul who seeks Him with sincerity the necessary props to support its faith, but He often refuses to the strong what He grants to the weak. Is this not Jesus’ own teaching: “Blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed”? Blessed are they who, in order to believe in God, do not need to see Him or to touch Him and do not require sensible signs, but who can unreservedly affirm: Scio cut credidi, “I know whom I have believed” (2 Tm 1,12), and I am sure of Him. Faith such as this is more meritorious for us, because, being founded solely on the word of God, it is entirely supernatural. It shows greater honor to God, because it gives Him full credence, without demanding any proof, and because it perseveres even in obscurity and in the midst of the most disconcerting events—even when it seems that heaven is closed and the Lord is deaf to our groanings. Such a strong faith as this is certainly the fruit of divine grace, but we must prepare ourselves to receive it, both by asking for it in prayer, and by exercising ourselves in this same faith.


My God, give me a simple, pure heart, free of malice and hypocrisy. “O Lord, grant me true purity and simplicity: in my looks, words, heart, intentions, works, and in all my interior and exterior acts. I should like to know, O Lord, what there is in me that impedes these virtues. I shall tell you, O my soul, since I cannot make anyone else understand. Do you know that the obstacle is the smallest glance that is not directed to God, and all the words that are not spoken in praise of Him or for the benefit of your neighbor. Do you know how you drive these virtues out of your heart? You banish them every time you fail to have the pure intention of honoring God or helping your neighbor; you also expel them when you try to cover up and excuse your faults, forgetting that God sees everything, including your heart. O Lord, give me real purity and true simplicity, for You cannot find Your rest in a soul which is without them ” (cf. St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi).

O Lord, cleanse my heart and lips in the fire of Your charity, so that I may love You and seek You with the purity and simplicity of a child. Give me also the simple faith of a child, faith without a shadow, without uncertainty or useless reasoning; an upright, pure faith which finds its satisfaction in Your word, in your testimony, for in this it is at peace and desires nothing else.

“O Lord, what is it to me whether I feel or do not feel, whether I am in darkness or in light, whether I have joy or suffering, when I can be recollected in the light created in me by Your words? I feel a kind of shame in differentiating between such matters, and while I feel that I am still affected by them, I heartily despise myself for my want of love, but I quickly turn my gaze upon you, my divine Master, to be delivered by You.... I will exalt You above Your sweet- ness and sensible consolations, for I am resolved to pass by all else in order to be united with You” (cf. E.T. II, 4).


PRESENCE OF GOD - Lord, teach me to pray!


1. When one of His disciples said to Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Lk 11,1), He taught them a very simple vocal prayer: the Our Father. It is certainly the most sublime formula possible and contains the whole essence of the most elevated mental prayer. However, Jesus gave it as a formula for vocal prayer : “ When you pray, say...” (ibid. 11,2). This is enough to make us understand the value and importance of vocal prayer, which is within the reach of everyone— even children, the uneducated, the sick, the weary.... But we must realize that vocal prayer does not consist only in the repetition of a certain formula. If this were true, we should have a recitation but not a prayer, for prayer always requires a movement, an elevation of the soul toward God. In this sense, Jesus instructed His disciples: “When thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret.... And when you are praying, speak not much as the heathens” (Mt 6,6.7). It is interesting to note that in St. Matthew these prescriptions concerning the exterior and interior dispositions necessary for well-made prayer immediately precede the teaching of the Pater Noster.

Therefore, in order that our vocal prayer be real prayer, we must first recollect ourselves in the presence of God, approach Him, and make contact with Him. Only when we have such dispositions will the words we pronounce with our lips express our interior devotion and be able to sustain and nourish it. Unfortunately, inclined as we are to grasp the material part of things instead of the spiritual, it is only too easy in our vocal prayer to content ourselves with a mechanical recitation, without taking care to direct our heart to God; hence we should always be vigilant and alert. Vocal prayer made only by the lips dissipates and wearies the soul instead of recollecting it in God; it cannot be said that this is a means of uniting us more closely to Him.

2. St. Teresa wanted to educate souls and to dispose them for intimate converse with God. Thus, she orientates vocal prayer to this end by saying: “I shall always recommend you to join vocal prayer with mental prayer” (Way, 22). She explains her idea in this way: “If while I am speaking with God, I have a clear realization that I am doing so, and if this is more real to me than the words I am uttering, then I am uniting mental prayer to vocal prayer” (ibid.). The Saint does not mean that we should disregard the care which is demanded by the recitation, and which is of great importance—especially in liturgical prayer like the Divine Office—but she does mean that the most important thing is to be always attentive to God. Especially when we are saying prayers of some length, it is almost impossible to give our attention to the meaning of all the words, but it is always possible to keep ourselves in the presence of God while reciting them. We can nourish the desire to praise God, or to unite ourselves to Him, to implore His help in general, or to ask for a particular grace, each according to his own actual dispositions. A general thought about the meaning of the words might be sufficient, or a simple glance at God to whom we are addressing our prayer. In short, it is not only a question of reciting words, but also of being with God. This is why the Saint insists: “You should consider [before praying] who it is that you are addressing, and who you are, if only that you may speak to Him with respect... ” (ibid.); and this, she concludes, is already to make mental prayer. This does not mean, of course, intense mental prayer, such as we make at the time devoted exclusively to this prayer, without any attempt to recite vocally. Still it is mental prayer in the sense that the mind and heart are orientated to God and that we are trying to get into close contact with Him by means of it. Vocal prayer practiced in this way has great value: first, because it is made in a manner very becoming and respectful toward the majesty of God, and secondly, because it gradually accustoms the soul to mental prayer, to intimate converse with Him.


“Never permit it to be thought right, my God, that those who come to speak with You do it with their lips alone.

“I must not be unmannerly because You are good, addressing You in the same careless way I might adopt in speaking to a peasant. If only to show You my gratitude for enduring my foul odor and allowing one like myself to come near You, it is well that I should try to realize who You are....

“O my Emperor, Supreme Power, Supreme Goodness, Wisdom itself, without beginning, without end, and without measure in Your works; infinite are these and incomprehensible, a fathomless ocean of wonders, O Beauty, containing within Yourself all beauties. O very Strength. God help me. Would that I could command all the eloquence of mortals and all wisdom, so as to understand, as far as is possible here below, that to know nothing is everything, and thus to describe some of the many things on which we may meditate in order to learn something of Your nature, my Lord and my God.

“When we approach You, then, let us try to realize who You are with whom we are about to speak. If we had a thousand lives we should never fully understand what are Your merits, Lord, and how we should behave before You, before whom the angels tremble.... We cannot approach a prince and address him in a careless way. Shall less respect be paid then to You, my Spouse, than to men?... I cannot distinguish mental prayer from vocal prayer when faithfully recited with a realization that it is You, O Lord, that we are addressing. Further, are we not under the obligation of trying to pray attentively?” (T.J. Way, 22-24).


PRESENCE OF GOD - O Lord, teach me to seek You, even when my heart is dry and my mind distracted.


1. The simplest way of conversing with God is certainly vocal prayer, properly made; but as the soul progresses in the spiritual life, it is natural for it to feel the need of a more interior prayer, of one that is more intimate; and so it spontaneously turns toward mental prayer. If the divine attraction takes hold of the soul by giving it some sensible devotion, no difficulty is experienced in becoming recollected in God; on the contrary, this exercise becomes extremely easy and pleasant. But it is quite different when the soul is left to itself, especially if an excessive activity of the imagination makes thoughts on a definite subject almost impossible. St. Teresa remarks that there are many who suffer from these continual wanderings of the mind, in which “they go here and there, and are always upset, whether the fault is in their own nature, or whether God permits it” (Way, 19).

Those who are in this condition are easily tempted to give up mental prayer, which has become so painful that they find it almost impossible. The Saint has an entirely different opinion, and insists that even these can apply themselves to mental prayer with profit, although they ought to do it in a somewhat special way. This way consists in helping themselves by reading a book, which, she says, “will be a great help to recollection, and is practically indispensable; let them read, therefore, even if only a little, but let them read” (Life, 4).

This does not mean that we are to spend the time allotted to mental prayer in continual reading. Rather, we should use some devout book in which we can find, from time to time, a good thought which serves to recollect us in God, to put us in contact with Him. St. Thérése of the Child Jesus, who suffered habitually from aridity, often used this method. “In my helplessness,” she said, “the Holy Scriptures and the Imitation are of the greatest assistance.... It is from the Gospels, however, that I derive most help in the time of prayer; I find in their pages all that my poor soul needs, and I am always discovering there new lights and hidden, mysterious meanings” (Si, 8).

2. St. Teresa of Jesus, who before she was raised to the highest states of contemplation had long known aridity and the torment of importunate thoughts during prayer, confesses: “I passed more than fourteen years unable to meditate, except with the help of a book.... With this help, I was able to collect my wandering thoughts, and the book acted like a bait to my soul. Often, I only needed to open the book; sometimes I read a little, at other times much, according to the favor which the Lord showed me” (Way, 17 — Life, 4).

It is important to choose a book which will arouse devotion, such as, in general, the writings of the saints. It will usually be preferable to take a book we have already read and one which we know will be helpful. We may even have marked some passages in it which have made an impression on us, whereas with a new book we would be somewhat lost, and perhaps exposed to the temptation of reading out of curiosity. We must avoid selecting authors who are too speculative, and choose instead those who are more practical and affective, since we are not interested in studying or learning but in praying, which consists much more in the exercise of love than in the work of the mind. Hence we should read, from time to time, only what is necessary to put the soul in a proper mood for  conversing with God. As soon as we have read enough—and it may be only a sentence—to arouse in us good thoughts and holy affections which will occupy our mind devoutly, we must stop reading and turn our attention directly to God : meditating in His presence on the thoughts we have read, or savoring in silence the devotion they have awakened in our heart, or even speaking to Him the loving words inspired by the reading. Like birds, who, when they drink, bend their heads toward the water, take a few drops, and raising their beaks toward the sky, swallow gradually, and then begin again, let us also bend our heads toward the devout book to gather a few drops of devotion, and then let us raise them to God, so that our minds may be fully impregnated with these thoughts. In this way, it will not be difficult to finish the prayer which we have begun by reading in an intimate colloquy with God.


O Lord, teach me how to seek You! Do not hide from my eyes, for I need to find You, to converse with You, to approach You, O infinite Love, to be inflamed and attracted by You.

“Although I am but dust and ashes, shall I speak to You, O Lord? Yes, from this vale of tears, from this place of exile, I dare to raise my eyes and fix them on You, supreme Goodness! Just as faithful servants and handmaids watch attentively for the slightest sign from their masters, so my eyes are on Your hands, O Lord. I beg You, have mercy on me.

“O good God, have pity on the work of Your hands. I am incapable, Lord, of formulating by myself any good thought, since all my sufficiency comes from You; nor can I worthily invoke Your Name without the help of the Holy Spirit. May it please You, then, to send me Your Spirit, in order that the rays of Your light may shine down upon me from the height of heaven. Come, O sweet Holy Spirit; come, Father of the poor; come, dispenser of graces; come, light of hearts; come, wonderful comforter; come, sweet guest and refreshment of our souls. You are rest in toil, dew on a summer morning, consolation in sorrow. O blessed Light! fill the inmost places of my heart” (cf. St. Peter of Alcantara).

O Lord, enlighten my heart, for without Your light, without Your Spirit, even the holiest books leave me cold and dry and do not speak to me of You. When, on the contrary, You come to my aid and give me Your interior grace, then everything is illumined with a new light, and even the simplest words are food for my soul. Grant me then, O Lord, this grace, without which no reading, however sublime, can inspire me with devotion; no reasoning, however lofty, can move my heart to love You and my will to accomplish good.


PRESENCE OF GOD - Inspire me, O Lord, with piety, so that I may learn how to converse with You in a spirit of real filial love.


1. The teachings of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Jesus suggest a method of meditation which is especially well adapted for bringing souls to divine intimacy and preparing them for contemplation.

St. John of the Cross gives us the distinctive note of this method: “The end of meditation and mental consideration of divine things is,” he says, “to obtain some knowledge and love of God ” (AS II, 14,2). We see at once that the emphasis is not placed on the work of the intellect, nor on the “speculative knowledge” of God and of the truths of faith. Rather, it rests on “loving knowledge,” which, of course, has its support in thought, but thought that is affectionate, permeated with love, and that surges from a loving heart. When we love a person, we come to know him intuitively, and thus, better and more easily than those who might study him more minutely, but without love.

St. Teresa of Jesus speaks in the same sense and says that prayer consists “not in thinking much, but in loving much” (Int CIV, 1). Thought is always subordinated to love. While we do think during the meditation, our purpose is not to become more learned, but to increase our ability to love God more. Consequently, the work of the mind will be orientated especially to the realization of God’s love for us; and this, by reflection on the various manifestations of infinite love. It can well be said that there is no divine mystery or truth of faith which does not, in some way, speak of the excessive love of the Lord. The more we are convinced of this love, the more profound will be our “loving knowledge” of God; and at the same time, we shall feel an ever increasing impulse to return love to Him who has first loved us so greatly. Thus, meditation, the discourse of the intellect, will bring us spontaneously to the exercise of love. For this reason we do not give the principal place in our prayer to reflection and reasoning, however lofty and sublime they may be; but we make use of them only insofar as is necessary to awaken love within us, to place us and maintain us in the actual exercise of love.

2. If in meditation we should not give first place to thought, neither should we go to the opposite extreme and neglect the necessary effort and application. We should apply the following method: Even before reading the point of the meditation, we should take great care to put ourselves in the presence of God, seeking by means of an energetic act of the will to put aside all alien thoughts, all  preoccupation and haste.

Mental prayer is an intimate conversation with God; but it is clear that we cannot treat intimately with Him if He is far from our minds and hearts. It is true that God is always present to us, but it is we who are not always present to Him. Therefore, we must establish contact with Our Lord, and place ourselves near Him, by a conscious realization of His presence. Each one of us can do this in the way which seems most suitable—either by considering the Most Holy Trinity dwelling in our heart, or by drawing near to Jesus present in the tabernacle, or perhaps by picturing to ourselves interiorly some episode in the life or the Passion of our Savior. Thus, in the presence of God and beneath His gaze, we read the point of the meditation tranquilly, and reflects upon it calmly and gently, not as if reasoning with ourselves, but rather as if speaking to God in whose presence we are. The more the soul becomes accustomed to this way of reflecting, that is, treating and developing the subject of our meditation with God, the more quickly will this method attain its end, which is to enable the soul to converse with the Lord, to speak affectionately with Him as a son speaks with its father, as a friend with a friend. Throughout the time of prayer application and effort are certainly needed; but these must be directed more to the sustaining of the soul in loving contact with God than to its preoccupation with abstract, narrow reasoning. The thoughts drawn from the meditation—and we may refer to the text whenever we feel the need of doing so—will serve to nourish this contact and to give the soul a subject for conversation with God. The work of the intellect must not make us forget that the essence of prayer consists in an intimate communing with God in which an interchange of love, not reasoning, predominates.


“Teach me, O Lord, how to meditate; teach me to pray, for I can do neither the one nor the other as I should, and You alone can teach me. Give me ears to hear You in the reading and in the meditation; give me a tongue to speak with You in prayer. Inspire me with Your divine Spirit, so that He may enable me to know the subject on which I should reflect, what I should say and ask, and how I should ask in order to obtain it. Let the Holy Spirit teach me to groan in Your presence; or rather, may He Himself form in me those holy groanings which You always hear and never reject. Inspire me, O Lord, with a great love for Your divine truths and doctrines, so that when I read of them, I shall understand and relish them. Open my mind and my heart; make me faithfully believe what You teach and practice what You command ” (an ancient author).

Above all, O Lord, grant that meditation on Your mysteries may serve to inflame me with Your holy love, so that I shall become more capable of loving You and more disposed to give myself generously to Your service. Teach me to meditate, not only with my mind, but especially with my heart; teach me to reflect devoutly and lovingly. Then, indeed, meditation will strike new sparks of love in my heart, and, as I hope, with Your grace, a flame will rise from it, ever stronger and more ardent, more and more able to purify my soul and to urge me ardently to accomplish Your will. How happy shall I be, O Lord, if at the powerful breath of the Holy Spirit, this flame should burst forth into a conflagration of divine love! My coldness, my meanness, my selfishness make me unworthy and incapable of this, but You who can raise up sons of Abraham even from stones, break my heart, so hard and cold, and light in it the living flame of Your love.

“O eternal God, You are eternal and infinite Goodness, no one can understand You or know You wholly, except insofar as You give him the grace to do so. And You give as much of this knowledge as we prepare our souls to receive. O sweet Love, all my life I have never loved You. But my soul always longs for You; and the more it possesses You, so much the more it seeks You; the more it desires You, so much the more it finds You and relishes You, O sovereign, eternal fire, abyss of charity ” (St. Catherine of Siena).


PRESENCE OF GOD - O Lord, although I am so unworthy, deign to admit me to intimacy with You.


1. Meditation, like meditative reading, is a means to attain to the heart of prayer which, according to St. Teresa of Jesus, is “ nothing but friendly intercourse, and frequent solitary converse with Him who we know loves us ” (Life, 8). It makes no difference whether we attain this end by means of meditation, or reading, or even by the slow, pious recitation of a vocal prayer. All these ways are good; the best for each one, however, will be that which will lead him more quickly to the end, that is, to intimate converse with God. Once we reach the heart of prayer, we must learn how to persevere in it, in other words, to converse “in friendly intercourse with the Lord.” Here, likewise, the manner will differ according to one’s attraction and personal dispositions, which will often vary with the days and with circumstances. Sometimes, as soon as we are sufficiently convinced of God’s love for us, we feel incited to express our gratitude to Him, desiring to return love for love, and we spontaneously begin an intimate conversation with the Lord. We express our gratitude, protesting that we want to be more generous in giving ourselves to Him; we beg His pardon for not having done so in the past; finally, we go on to make practical resolutions and to ask His help to keep them faithfully. Of course, this means an intimate colloquy, wholly personal and spontaneous, without preoccupation about form or order, and proceeding only from the superabundance of the heart.

In this way, having interrupted the reading or the meditation it which has aroused in us so many good thoughts, we “stop to have solitary converse with God,” returning to the book or the reflection when we feel the need of seeking new reasons or of arousing new affections to maintain our colloquy with God. Here is a genuine colloquy, because not only does the soul speak, but God often answers—not audibly, of course, but by sending it graces of light and love through which the soul will have a better understanding of the divine ways, and will feel more eager to advance in them with generosity. It is well, therefore, not to make use of many words in the colloquy, but to stop often and listen interiorly in order to perceive the movements of grace, which are really God’s answer.

2. We must not believe that in order to treat intimately with God and to show Him our love, it is always necessary to do so by means of words. On the contrary—and this happens spontaneously with progress in the spiritual life—we will often prefer to be silent in order to fix our gaze calmly on the Lord, to listen to Him, the interior Master, and to return Him love in silence. The manifestation of our love thus becomes less lively and impetuous, but it gains in depth what it loses in emotion and outward appearance. We express our love more tranquilly, but the movement of our will toward God is much firmer and more serious. Leaving aside reasonings and words, we concentrates all in a loving, intuitive look on God, and this gaze, far more than reasonings and colloquies, allows us to penetrate the depths of the divine mysteries. Before reaching this point, we have read, meditated, analyzed; now, enjoying as it were the fruit of our investigation, we stop to contemplate God in silence and love. Our colloquy now becomes silent, contemplative, according to the traditional idea of “contemplation,” simplex intuitus veritatis, that is, a simple look which penetrates truth. But let us repeat, this is not a speculative look, but a look of love which keeps the soul in intimate contact with God, in a real exchange of friendship with Him. The more the soul contemplates God, and the more it falls in love with Him, the greater need it feels to concentrate its love in total generosity. The Lord in turn answers this seeking love of the soul. He lets Himself be found and felt by illuminating the soul with His light and drawing it more intensely to Himself by His grace.

The soul will not always be able to continue long in this contemplative look, this silent colloquy; now and again it will need to come back to reflection, to the verbal expression of its thoughts, and—especially when it is not yet accustomed to this manner of prayer—it will be well for it to do so rather often, in order to avoid vagueness and distractions. Nevertheless, it must be remembered that more is gained in these silent pauses at the feet of Our Lord than in a thousand reasonings and discourses.


“Grant, O Lord, that the purpose of my prayer may be to occupy my heart with loving You; and since I can find no better way to practice love than by this intimate recollection in silence and detachment from all creatures, I beg You, my God, to take away my life rather than deprive me of this interior exchange with You, my paradise on earth ” (cf. St. Leonard of Port Maurice).

“O Lord, there is no profit for You in staying with us; and yet You love us enough to say that Your delight is to dwelling our company. Why do You love us so much as to give Yourself to us more freely than the things we ask of You? It is certain that I no longer desire to possess anything else; since, if I ask You properly, I can receive You, my God, and converse intimately with You. I shall adorn myself with the jewels of the virtues, and invite You to the nuptial couch of my heart where I shall rest with You. I know that You neither ask nor wish for anything else than to visit my soul, that You want to enter, and have been knocking at its door for a long time, and I regret that I have so long deprived myself of this great gift. So I shall come near You in the secret place of my heart and say to You: I know that You love me more than I love myself, I shall no longer be concerned for myself, but shall have no thought save for You alone, and You will take care of me. I cannot pay attention to You and to myself at the same time; therefore, in a loving mutual exchange, You will think of me, comforting my infirmity, and I shall think of You, finding my joy in Your goodness. Whereas I have much to gain from You, You have nothing to gain from me; yet I know that You are with me very willingly, and more desirous of helping me than I am of remaining with You and enjoying Your goodness. Whence does this come? Certainly it arises from this: that I love myself poorly, and You love me well.... But if You wished, O Lord, to set before my eyes all the marks of Your love, I would faint away, for even if I had all the tongues of men and of angels, I could never express all the gifts of nature, grace, and glory which You have given me.... How then, O Lord, can I think or meditate on anything except Your love? What is sweeter than that? Why should I desire anything else? And how does it happen that I am not seized and bound by Your love? It surrounds me on all sides, and yet I do not comprehend it” (cf. St. Bonaventure).


PRESENCE OF GOD - May I find You within me, O my God, in the little heaven of my soul!


1. St. Teresa of Jesus warmly recommends to interior souls another kind of prayer, much simpler and more profitable—the prayer of recollection. The foundation of this prayer is the divine presence in our souls: the presence of immensity, by which God is in us as Creator and Preserver in so real and essential a manner that “in Him we live, and move, and are” (Acts 17,28), so that if He ceased to be present in us, we should cease to exist; the presence of friendship, by which in a soul in the state of grace, God is present as a Father, as a Friend and as a sweet Guest, who invites that soul to dwell with the three divine Persons : with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is the consoling promise of Jesus to the soul who loves Him : “ If anyone love Me... My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and will make our abode with him” (Jn 14,23).

The prayer of recollection consists in the realization of this great truth: God is in me, my soul is His temple; I recollect myself in the intimacy of this temple to adore Him, love Him, and unite myself to Him. “ O soul, most beautiful of all creatures,” exclaims St. John of the Cross, “that so greatly desireth to know the place where your Beloved is, in order to seek Him and be united with Him.... It is a matter of great contentment and joy for you to see that He is so near you as to be within you. Rejoice and be glad in your inward recollection with Him, since you have Him so near. There desire Him, there adore Him, and do not go to seek Him outside yourself” (SC, 1,7.8). The soul who has the sense of the presence of God within it, possesses one of the most efficacious means of making prayer. “Do you believe,” says St. Teresa of Jesus, “that it is of little importance for a soul who is easily distracted, to understand this truth [that God is in it] and to know that, in order to speak with its heavenly Father and to enjoy His company, it does not have to go up to heaven or even to raise its voice? No matter how softly it speaks, He always hears it, because He is so near. It does not need wings to go to contemplate Him in itself” (Way, 28).

2. Although the prayer of recollection is the highest of the active forms of prayer, St. Teresa notes that we can obtain it for ourselves, “for this is not a supernatural state [a passive recollection which can only be produced by divine motion], but depends upon our volition; and by God’s favor, we can enter it of our own accord” (ibid., 29).

Therefore, it is important to know what the soul should do in order to practice this prayer, and this can be reduced to two things: “The soul collects together all its faculties and enters within itself to be with its God” (ibid., 28). Our senses, imagination, and intellect tend spontaneously toward exterior things, on which they are dispersed; therefore, the soul, by a prolonged, resolute act of the will, ought to withdraw them from these exterior things in order to concentrate them on interior things—in this little heaven of the soul where the Blessed Trinity dwells. This exercise, especially in the beginning, requires effort and energy and it will not be easy at first. However, the Saint teaches, “let the soul try to cultivate the habit, despite the fatigue entailed in recollecting itself and overcoming the body which is trying to reclaim its rights.” Little by little, “ as a reward for the violence which it has previously done to itself” (ibid.), recollection will become easy and delightful; the senses will obey promptly; and even if the soul is not entirely free from distractions, it will not be so hard to overcome them.

In this way, we shall be able to concentrate entirely on God present within us, and there at His feet will be able to converse with Him to our heart’s delight. It will not be difficult to spend even the whole time of prayer in acts of faith, love, and adoration, admiring and contemplating the great mystery of the indwelling of the Trinity in our poor heart, and offering our humble homage to the three divine Persons. But if this is not enough, we can also use other practices: “Hidden there within our soul, we can think about the Passion, and picture the Son, and offer Him to the Father, without tiring the mind by going to seek Him on Mount Calvary, or in the Garden, or at the Column”; or else, more simply, we can “speak with Him as with a Father, a Brother, a Lord, and a Spouse—sometimes in one way, sometimes in another...we can tell Him our troubles, beg Him to put them right, and yet realize that we are not worthy to be called His child” (ibid.). And the Saint concludes with these words: “Those who are able to shut themselves up in this way within this little heaven of the soul, where dwells the Maker of heaven and earth. ..may be sure that they are walking on an excellent road and will come without fail to drink of the water of the fountain” (ibid).


“Give me the grace to recollect myself in the little heaven of my soul where You have established Your dwelling. There You let me find You, there I feel that You are closer to me than anywhere else, and there You prepare my soul quickly to enter into intimacy with You. Then, the soul, understanding that all the things of the world are but toys, seems all of a sudden to rise above everything created and escape it.... My God, if I could only recall often that You are dwelling within my soul, I think that it would be impossible for me to give myself up to the things of the world, for compared with what I have within me, they seem to me to have no value at all.

“Help me, O Lord, to withdraw my senses from exterior things, make them docile to the commands of my will, so that when I want to converse with You, they will retire at once, like bees shutting themselves up in the hive in order to make honey ” (cf. T.J. Way, 28).

“O Lord, You say to my soul, ‘My kingdom is within you.’ It is very comforting to know that You never leave me, and that I cannot exist without You. What more do you want, O my soul, and what do you seek elsewhere, since you possess within yourself your wealth, your love, your peace, your plenitude, and your kingdom, that is, the Beloved whom you desire and for whom you sigh?” (cf. J.C. SC, 1,7.8).

"O my God, You are in me and I am in You. I have found my heaven on earth, since heaven is You, O Lord, and You are in my soul. I can find You there always; even when I do not feel Your presence, You are there nevertheless, and I like to seek You there. Oh! if only I could never leave You alone!” (cf. E.T. L).


PRESENCE OF GOD - O Lord, help me to be faithful to You, so that the spirit of prayer will not be extinguished in me through my own


1. At the beginning of a more intense spiritual life the soul usually enjoys a sensible fervor which makes spiritual exercises easy and agreeable. Good thoughts, sentiments of love, and outpourings from the heart arise spontaneously. To be recollected and alone with God in prayer is a joy; time passes quickly, and frequently the presence of God becomes almost perceptible; there is a like facility in the practice of mortification and the other virtues. However, this state does not ordinarily last long, and there comes a time when the soul is deprived of all sensible consolation. This suppression of sensible devotion is the state of aridity, which may have various causes.

Sometimes it is the result of infidelity on the part of those who little by little have become lax, allowing themselves many slight satisfactions and pleasures and giving in to their curiosity, selfishness, or pride—which they had previously renounced. If they only realized what benefits they were losing by such conduct, they would be ready for any kind of sacrifice rather than yield to these weaknesses. The habit of mortification, which was acquired at great cost, is quickly lost, and they again become the slaves of their own passions. Self-love, which was not dead, but only sleeping, becomes active again and may become not only the cause of many voluntary imperfections which had previously been overcome, but even of deliberate venial sins. It may ultimately reduce to lukewarmness a once fervent soul. The unfaithful one who has fallen back into mediocrity cannot protest to the Lord in prayer that it loves Him and desires to advance in His love; still less can it taste the joy of knowing that it truly loves God. Hence such a soul inevitably falls into aridity. In this condition the only remedy is to return to its first fervor. This will cost it dearly, but far from becoming discouraged, the soul should begin anew as soon as possible. Besides, Our Lord loves so much to forgive!

2. On the other hand, aridity sometimes arises from physical or moral causes which are entirely independent of ourselves : indisposition, illness, fatigue, or depression caused by troublesome preoccupations or excessive work. These are things which can make all feeling of spiritual consolation disappear, and this often occurs with no way of remedying it. It is a trial which may last a long time, but one in which we must, with good reason, see the hand of God which disposes everything for our good, and realize that He cannot fail to give us the grace necessary to profit by our suffering. Although not feeling any consolation nor experiencing any attraction for prayer, the soul should apply itself to it through duty, while trying by some ingenuity to remedy its own powerlessness. St. Teresa of Jesus says that “anyone who cannot make mental prayer should turn to vocal prayer, or reading, or colloquies with God, but should never fail to consecrate to prayer the time set apart for it” (Way, 18).

If, in spite of everything, the soul does not succeed in moving its heart, let it love God by the will alone. This requires a great effort, but by it this faculty is strengthened. Almost without realizing it, the soul is made capable of a more active, generous love. This love will be deprived of feeling, it is true, but we must remember that the substance of love does not consist in feeling, but in willing to give pleasure, at any cost, to the person loved. One who, in order to please God, perseveres in prayer although he finds no consolation
in it, but rather repugnance, gives Him a beautiful proof of true love. Progress in the spiritual life is not measured by the consolation the soul feels; for this is unnecessary, since true devotion consists solely in the promptness of the will in God’s service. The will can be very prompt and firmly resolved to serve God, although at the same time it is arid and even forced to struggle against its natural repugnance.


“Lord, my God, You who are holy, look and see my affliction! Have pity on the child whom You have engendered in sorrow and do not consider my sins, lest You forget Your power over them. What father will not liberate his son? And what son has not been chastised by his father’s compassionate rod? O Father and Lord, although I am a sinner, I am nonetheless Your child, because You have created and recreated me. Can a mother forget the fruit of her womb? If she should forget—You, Father, have promised to remember. Behold! I cry, and You do not hearken to me, I am torn with grief, and You do not console me. What shall I say, what shall I do, miserable creature that I am? Deprived of Your consolation, I am far away from Your sight.

“O Lord Jesus, where are Your ancient mercies? Shall You be angry with me forever? Be appeased, I beg You, and do not turn Your face away from me.... I confess that I have sinned, but I am certain that Your mercy surpasses all my offenses!

“Weep, my soul, and complain, miserable one; groan because You have sent away Your Spouse, Jesus Christ, the All-powerful God; do not be angry with me, O Lord, for I could never withstand Your anger. Have pity on me, so that I may not fall into despair. Although I am worthy of condemnation, do not withhold that which can save sinners.

“I hope for much from Your bounty, O Lord, because You Yourself teach us to ask, to seek, and to knock; at Your word, I ask, I seek, I knock. O Lord, You who tell us to ask, grant that I may receive; You who tell us to seek, grant that I may find; You who teach us to knock at the door, open to the one who is knocking! I am weak; strengthen me. Bring me back, because I have wandered away, and revive me, because I am dead. According to Your good pleasure, direct and govern my senses, my thoughts, and my actions, that I may live by You and give myself entirely to You” (St. Augustine).
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre

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