St. Alphonsus Liguori: Daily Meditations for the Second Week of Advent
St. Alphonsus Liguori: Daily Meditations for the Second Week of Advent

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Morning Meditation

Consider that salvation is assured to souls who enter the Religious state.

God has placed us in the world and keeps us here in life, not to acquire the perishable goods of earth, but the eternal goods of Heaven. The end is life everlasting (Rom. vi. 22). But the misfortune is that in the world men think very little indeed, if at all, of eternal life, and only dream of acquiring honours and pleasures, and this is the reason why so many souls perish.

I.To understand the importance of our eternal salvation it is enough to have Faith and to consider we have only one soul, and if that is lost, all is lost were a man even master of the whole world. What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul? (Matt. xvi. 26). This great maxim of the Gospel has induced many youths to shut themselves up in cloisters, others to live in deserts, and others to give up their lives for Jesus Christ. For, said they, what does it profit us to possess the whole world, and all the goods of this world, in this present life, which must soon finish, and then be damned and be miserable in the life to come, which will never end? All those rich men, all those princes and emperors, who are now in hell -- what have they now of all they enjoyed in this life but greater torment and a greater despair? Miserable beings! They lament now and say: All those things are passed away like a shadow (Wis. v. 9). For them all is passed like a shadow, like a dream, and that lamentation which is their lot has lasted already many years, and will last throughout all eternity. The fashion of this world passeth away (1 Cor. vii. 51). This world is a scene which lasts but a short time; happy he who plays in this scene that part which will afterwards make him happy in the life which will never end. When he shall then be contented, honoured, and a prince in Paradise, so long as God shall be God, little will he care for having been in this world -- poor, despised and in tribulation. For this end alone God has placed us on this earth, and keeps us here in life, not to acquire transitory but eternal goods: The end is life everlasting.

O my God! How have I ever deserved this great mercy, that, having left so many others to live in the midst of the world, Thou hast willed to call me, who have offended Thee more than others, and deserved, more than they, to be deprived of Thy divine light, to enjoy the honour of living as a friend in Thy own house! O Lord, grant that I may understand this exceeding grace, which Thou hast bestowed on me, that I may always thank Thee for it, as I purpose and hope to do always during my life and throughout eternity, and do not permit me to be ungrateful for it. Since Thou hast been so liberal towards me, and hast in Thy love preferred me to others, it is but just that more than others I should serve and love Thee.

II.With desolation is all the land made desolate, because there is none that considereth in the heart (Jer. xii. 11). How few are they who reflect on death, by which for us the scene is closed; on the eternity which awaits us; on what God has done for our sake! And hence it comes that these miserable beings live in blindness and carelessly, far from God, having their eyes, like the beasts, intent only on earthly things, without remembering God, without desiring His love, and without a thought of eternity. Therefore, they die afterwards an unhappy death, which will be the beginning of eternal death and endless misery. Then it is they will open their eyes; but it will be only to lament over their own foolishness.

This is the great means of salvation which is found in Religion, namely, continual meditation on the eternal truths. Remember thy last end and thou shalt never sin (Eccles. vii. 40). In well-regulated Religious houses this is done every day, and even several times a day. And therefore in the light of divine things, which there shines continually, it is morally impossible to live, at least for a long time, far from God, and without keeping one's account ready for eternity.

O my Jesus! Thou wouldst have me to be wholly Thine, and to Thee I give myself entirely. Accept me, and henceforward keep me as Thy own, since I am no longer mine. Finish Thou the work which Thou hast begun. Thou hast called me to Thy house, because Thou wilt have me become a Saint. Make me then what Thou wilt have me. Do it, O Eternal Father! for the love of Jesus Christ, in Whom is all my confidence. I love Thee, my sovereign Good, I love Thee. O infinite Goodness! I love Thee alone, and will love Thee forever. O Mary, my hope, succour me, and obtain for me to be always faithful and thankful to my Lord.

Spiritual Reading


It is evident our Eternal Salvation depends principally upon the choice of a state of life. Father Louis of Granada calls the choice of a state the main-spring of the whole life. Just as in a clock when the main-spring is out of order the whole clock goes wrong, so in the order of our salvation, if we fail to enter the state to which we are called, the whole life, as St. Gregory Nazianzen says, is in disorder.

If, then, we wish to make our eternal salvation secure we must, in our choice of a state, embrace the Divine Vocation in which God has prepared for us the efficacious means of salvation. For, as St. Cyprian says: "the grace of the Holy Ghost is given according to the order of Divine Providence and not according to our own caprice." And in this sense St. Paul writes: Everyone has his proper gift from God (l Cor. vii. 7). That is, God gives to each one his Vocation, chooses the state in which He wills him to be saved. And this is the order of predestination described by the same Apostle: Whom he predestinated, them he also called: and whom he called them he also justified ... and them he also glorified (Rom. viii. 30).

And here we must remark that in the world there are some who pay little attention to this question of Vocation. They think it to be all the same, whether they live in the state to which God calls them, or in that which they themselves choose, following their own inclinations, and this is why so many lead a bad life and lose their souls. It is certain that this is the principal point with regard to the acquisition of eternal life. Vocation is followed by justification, and justification by glorification, that is, eternal life. He who disturbs this order and breaks this chain of salvation shall not save his soul. With all his labours and with all the good he may do, the words of St. Augustine apply to him: "Thou runnest well, but off the road," that is, out of the way in which God called you to walk for attaining salvation. The Lord does not accept sacrifices, which are purely of our own making: But to Cain and his offerings he had no respect (Gen. iv. 5). Rather He threatens with great chastisement those who, when He calls them, turn their backs on Him in order to follow the counsels of their own caprice. Woe to you apostate children, He says through Isaias, that you would take counsel and not from me, and would begin a web and not by my spirit (Is. xxx. 1).

A divine call to a more perfect life is undoubtedly a special and a very great grace which God does not give to all; hence He has much reason to be displeased with those who despise it. How greatly would not a prince think himself offended, if he should call one of his vassals to serve near his person, and he should refuse to obey! And should God not resent like conduct? Ah! He resents it very much indeed, and threatens, saying: Woe to him that gainsayeth his Maker (Ib. xiv. 9). The word "Woe" in Scripture signifies eternal damnation. The chastisement of the disobedient will begin even in this life, in which he will always be unquiet, for, says Job, Who hath resisted him and hath had peace? (Job ix. 4). He will be deprived of those abundant and efficacious helps necessary to lead a good life. For which reason the Theologian, Habert, writes "He will with great difficulty be able to work out his salvation." He will with great difficulty save himself; for, being like a member out of its proper place, he will with great difficulty be able to live well. "In the body of the Church," adds the learned author, "he will be like a limb of the human body out of its place, which may be able to perform its functions, but only with difficulty and in an awkward manner." Hence, he concludes: "And although, absolutely speaking, he may be saved, he will with difficulty enter upon and advance in the road, and use the means of salvation." The same thing is taught by St. Bernard and St. Leo. St. Gregory, writing to the Emperor Maurice, who by an Edict had forbidden soldiers to become Religious, says that this was an unjust law, which shut the gates of Paradise to many, because many would save themselves in Religion who would otherwise perish in the world.

Father Lancicius tells us there was in the Roman College a youth of great talents. While he was making the Religious Exercises, he asked his confessor whether it was a sin not to correspond to a Vocation to the Religious life. The confessor replied that in itself it was not a grievous sin, because a call to perfection is a counsel and not a precept, but he would expose his salvation to great danger as had happened to many who, not following their Vocation, were in the end, lost. He did not obey the call. He went to study in Macerata, where he soon began to omit prayer and Holy Communion, and finally gave himself up to a bad life. Soon after, coming one night from the house of a wicked woman, he was mortally wounded by a rival. Some priests ran to his assistance, but he had expired before they arrived, just in front of the college. By this circumstance God wished to show that this chastisement came upon him for having neglected his Vocation.

Father Pinamonti relates in his treatise, Victorious Vocation, that a Novice who had resolved to leave the Novitiate had a vision. He saw Christ on a throne in wrath, ordering his name to be blotted out of the Book of Life. He was so terrified that he persevered in his Vocation.

How many similar examples are there not to be found in books! And how many unhappy youths shall we not see damned on the Day of Judgment for not having followed their Vocation! Such are rebels against the divine light, as the Holy Ghost says: They have been rebellious to the light, they have not known his ways (Job xxiv. 13), and they will be justly punished by losing the light; and because they would not walk in the way shown them by the Lord, they shall walk without light in that chosen by their own caprice, and perish. Behold I will declare my spirit to you (Prov. i. 23). Behold the Call of God -- but because they fail to follow it, God adds: Because I called you and you refused ... you have despised all my counsel ... I also will laugh in your destruction, and I will mock when that shall come upon you which you feared. Then shall you call upon me, and I will not hear: they shall rise in the morning and shall not find me. Because they have hated instruction and received not the fear of the Lord, nor consented to my counsel, but despised all my reproof (Ib. i. 24, 26, 28, 80). And this signifies that God will not hear the prayers of him who has neglected to obey His voice. St. Augustine says: "They who have despised the will of God which invited them, shall feel the will of God when it becomes its own avenger."

Evening Meditation

I. He hath loved us, and hath delivered himself for us. (Eph. v. 2).

Consider that the Eternal Word is that God Who is so infinitely happy in Himself that His happiness cannot be greater than it is, nor could the salvation of all mankind have added anything to it; nor could the loss of souls have diminished it; and yet He has done and suffered so much to save us miserable worms that if His beatitude, as St. Thomas says, had depended on that of man, He could not have done or suffered more: "As if without him He could not be happy." And, indeed, if Jesus Christ could not have been happy without redeeming us, how could He have humbled Himself more than He has done, in taking upon Himself our infirmities, the miseries of infancy, the troubles of human life, and a death so barbarous and ignominious?

None but God was capable of loving to so great an excess such wretched sinners as we are, and who are so unworthy of being loved. A devout author says: "If Jesus Christ had permitted us to ask of Him to give us the greatest proof of His love, who would have ventured to ask of Him that He should become a Child like unto us, that He should clothe Himself with all our miseries, and make Himself of all men the most poor, the most despised, and the most ill-treated, even to being put to death by the hands of executioners, and in the greatest torments upon an infamous gibbet, cursed and forsaken by all, even by His own Father, Who abandoned His Son that He might not abandon us in our ruin?"

But that which we should not have had the boldness even to think of, the Son of God has thought of and accomplished.

My Jesus, I should, indeed, do great injustice to Thy mercy and Thy love, if, after Thou hast given me so many proofs of the love Thou bearest me, and the desire Thou hast to save me, I should still distrust Thy mercy and Thy love. My beloved Redeemer, I am a poor sinner; but Thou hast said that Thou didst come to seek sinners: I am not come to call the just, but sinners. (Matt. ix. 13). I am a poor infirm creature -- Thou camest to cure the infirm, and Thou didst say: They that are whole need not the physician, but they that are sick (Luke v. 31). I was lost through my sins, but Thou didst come to save the lost: The son of man is come to save that which was lost (Matt. xviii. 11). What, then, can I fear, if I am willing to amend my life and to become Thine? I have only myself and my own weakness to fear; but my own weakness and poverty ought to increase my confidence in Thee, Who hast declared Thyself to be the refuge of the destitute: The Lord is become a refuge for the poor (Ps. ix. 10).

II. Even from His childhood He sacrificed Himself for us to sufferings, to opprobium, and to death: He hath loved us, and hath delivered himself for us (Eph. v. 2). He loved us, and out of love He gave us Himself, in order that we, by offering Him as a Victim to the Father, in satisfaction for our debts, might through His merits obtain from the divine goodness all the graces that we desire; a Victim dearer to the Father than if we offered Him the lives of all men and of all the Angels. Let us therefore continually offer to God the merits of Jesus Christ, and through them let us seek and hope for every good.

I implore this favour of Thee, O my Jesus! Give me confidence in Thy merits, and grant that I may always recommend myself to God through Thy merits. Eternal Father, save me from hell, and first from sin, for the love of Jesus Christ; for the sake of the merits of this Thy Son enlighten my mind to obey Thy will; give me strength against temptations; grant me the gift of Thy holy love; and, above all, I beseech Thee to give me the grace to pray to Thee to help me, for the love of Jesus Christ, Who hast promised that Thou wilt grant to him who prays in His name whatever he asks of Thee. If I continue to pray to Thee in this way, I shall certainly be saved; but if I neglect it, I shall certainly be lost. Most holy Mary, obtain for me this great gift of prayer, and that I may persevere in recommending myself constantly to God, and also to thee, who dost obtain from God whatever thou willest.
"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
Tuesday--Second Week of Advent

Morning Meditation

Consider the happy death of a Religious.

Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord (Apoc. xiv. 13). And who are those blessed dead who die in the Lord if not Religious, who, at the end of their lives are found already dead to the world, since they have by their Vows already detached themselves from the world and all its goods. I leave all and choose Thee alone for my Treasure, O most pure Lamb of God and my most ardent Lover!

I. Consider, my brother, your contentment, if following your Vocation, it will be your good fortune to die in the House of God. The devil will certainly represent to you that if you retire into the House of God, you may perhaps afterwards repent of having left your own house and your own country, and deprived your parents of the advantages which they might have expected from you. But ask yourself: Shall I, at the point of death, be sorry, or shall I rejoice at having followed my resolution? I beseech you therefore to imagine yourself already at the point of death, about to appear before the Tribunal of Jesus Christ. Reflect what, when reduced to that state, you would wish to have done. Perhaps to have pleased your parents, to have worked for your own family and your country, and then to die surrounded by brothers, and nephews, and relatives in your own house with the title of Pastor, Parish Priest, Canon, Bishop or a Minister of State, having done your own will? Or, on the other hand, to die in the House of God, assisted by your good brethren in Religion, who would encourage you in the passage to eternity, after having lived many years in Religion, humble, mortified, poor, far from parents, deprived of your own will and under obedience, and detached from everything in the world -- all which render death sweet and agreeable? "He who has been accustomed to deprive himself of the delights of the world," says St. Bernard. "will not regret having done so when he has to leave it." Pope Honorius II., when dying, wished that he had remained in his monastery, occupied in washing the plates, and had not been Pope. Philip II. wished at his death that he had been a lay-brother in some Religious Order, intent on serving God, and had not been a king. Phillip III, also King of Spain, said when he was dying: "Oh, that I had been in a desert, there to serve God, and that I had never been a monarch! For, had such been the case, I should now appear with more confidence before the Tribunal of Jesus Christ."

O my Lord Jesus Christ! Who, in order to obtain a happy death for me, hast chosen so bitter a death for Thyself -- since Thou hast loved me to such an extent as to have chosen me to follow more closely Thy holy life, to have me thus more intimately united with Thy loving Heart, bind me, I beseech Thee, wholly to Thee with the sweet cords of Thy love, that I may no more separate myself from Thee. O my beloved Redeemer! I wish to be grateful to Thee, and to correspond with Thy grace, but I fear my weakness may render me unfaithful. O my Jesus! Do not permit this. Let me die rather than abandon Thee, or forget the peculiar affection Thou hast shown me.

II. When, then, hell tempts you about your Vocation, think of the hour of death, and set before your eyes that all-important moment upon which eternity depends. Thus you will overcome all temptations; you will be faithful to God; and certainly you will not repent of it at the point of death, but will give thanks to the Lord, and die contented. Gerard, brother of St. Bernard, died singing at the very thought of dying in the House of God. Father Suarez, of the Society of Jesus, felt at his death so great consolation and sweetness at dying in Religion that he said: "I never thought it would be so sweet to die." Another good Religious, of the same Society, laughed when at the point of death; and being asked why he laughed, answered: "And why should I not laugh? Has not Jesus Christ Himself promised Paradise to him who leaves everything for His sake? Was it not He Who said: Everyone that has left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife or children or lands for my name's sake, shall receive a hundred-fold, and shall possess life-everlasting? (Matt. xix. 29). I have left all for God; God is faithful, He cannot fail in His promises; and so," he said, "why should I not rejoice and laugh, seeing myself assured of Paradise?" A certain Lay-brother, who died some years ago, was asked, at his death, what he desired most? He answered: "I desire nothing but to die and to be united with God."

Father Januarius Sarnelli, a short time before his death, when conversing with God, was heard saying: "O Lord, Thou knowest that all I have done and all I have thought, has been for Thy glory; now I wish to go to see Thee face to face, if it please Thee so." And then, desiring his departure, he said: "Courage, I wish to enter into a sweet agony." He then began to converse affectionately with God, and shortly after placidly expired. There was a smile on his lips, and from his body came a sweet odour, which, as many attested, remained for several days in the room in which he had died.*

St. Bernard, speaking of the happy state of Religious, had good reason to exclaim: "O secure life, in which death is expected without fear -- yea, sweetly desired and devoutly accepted!"

I love Thee, O my Saviour! Thou art and shalt always be the only Lord of my heart and of my soul. I leave all and choose Thee alone for my Treasure, O most pure Lamb of God. O my most ardent Lover! My beloved is white and ruddy, chosen out of thousands (Cant. v. 10). Begone, ye creatures, my only Good is my God, He is my Love, my All. I love Thee, O my Jesus! and in loving Thee I will spend the remainder of my life, be it short, or be it long. I embrace Thee, I press Thee to my heart, and I wish to die united to Thee. I wish nothing else. Make me live always burning with Thy love, and when I shall have arrived at the end of my life, make me expire in an ardent act of love towards Thee.

Immaculate Virgin Mary, obtain this grace for me, I hope it from thee.

*The Ven. Father Januarius Sarnelli, C.SS.R. was one of the first companion of St. Alphonsus. He died in the odour of sanctity in the year 1774, and the Cause of his Beatification has been introduced. EDITOR

Spiritual Reading

Whenever, therefore, God calls us to a more perfect state, he who does not wish to expose his eternal salvation to great risk must then obey, and obey promptly. Otherwise he will hear from Jesus Christ the reproach of that young man who, when invited to follow Him, said: I will follow thee, Lord, but let me first take my leave of them that are at my house (Luke ix. 61). Upon which, Jesus told him he was not fit for Paradise: No man putting his hand to the plough and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God (Ib. 62). The lights which God gives are transient, not permanent gifts. Hence St. Thomas Aquinas says that the call of God to a more perfect state must be obeyed as quickly as possible -- quanto citius. He proposes in his Summa the question whether it would be praiseworthy to enter Religion without having asked the counsel of many and without long deliberation. He answers in the affirmative, saying that counsel and deliberation are necessary in doubtful matters, but not in this, which is certainly good, because Jesus Christ has counselled it in the Gospel, and the Religious State embraces most of the Counsels of Jesus Christ. What a wonderful thing! When there is question of entering Religion to lead a more perfect life, and one more free from the dangers of the world, men of the world will say that it is necessary to deliberate a long time before putting such a resolution into execution, in order to ascertain whether the Vocation comes from God or from the devil! But they do not talk thus when it is a question of accepting a place in the Magistracy, or a Bishopric, and so on, where there are so many dangers of losing one's soul. Then these men of the world do not say that many proofs are required that it is a true call from God.

But the Saints do not speak thus. St. Thomas says that even should a Vocation to Religion come from the devil, we should follow it as a good counsel, though coming from an enemy. St. John Chrysostom, as quoted by the same St. Thomas, says that God, when He gives such Vocations, wills that we should not delay, even for a moment, to follow them. Christ requires from us such an obedience that we should not delay an instant. And why this? Because, as God is much pleased to see a soul prompt in obeying Him, He opens His hand and fills that soul with His blessings. On the contrary, He is displeased with tardiness in obeying Him; He shuts His hand and withdraws His lights. Hence, the soul will follow its Vocation with difficulty, and will easily abandon it. Therefore, St. John Chrysostom says that when the devil cannot bring one to give up his resolution of consecrating himself to God, he at least seeks to make him defer the execution of it, and esteems it a great gain if he can obtain the delay of one day, or even of an hour. And why? Because a day later, or even an hour later, other occasions presenting themselves, it will be less difficult for him to obtain still greater delay, until he who has been called, finding himself more feeble and less assisted by grace, gives way altogether and loses his Vocation. Therefore, St. Jerome gives to those who are called to quit the world this advice: "Make haste, I beseech you, and cut rather than untie the cable by which your barque is bound fast to the land." The Saint wished to say that as a man who should find himself in a boat on the point of sinking would seek to cut the rope rather than to untie it, so he who finds himself in the midst of the world ought to seek to get out of it as quickly as possible, in order to free himself from the danger which is so great in the world, of losing his soul.

Let us also hear what St. Francis de Sales writes, concerning Religious Vocation. It will confirm what has already been said, and what will be said hereafter: "To have a sign of a true Vocation, it is not necessary that our constancy be sensible, it suffices if it be in the superior part of our soul. And therefore we must not judge that a Vocation is not true if, before it is actually followed, a person no longer feels those sensible movements which he felt in the beginning, and even should he feel a repugnance and coldness, which sometimes makes him waver, and it appears to him that all is lost. It is enough that the will remains constant in not abandoning the divine call, and that there remains some affection for this call. To know whether God wills one to become a Religious, one ought not to expect that God Himself should speak or send an Angel from Heaven to signify His will. And as little necessary is it that ten or twelve Doctors should examine whether the Vocation is to be followed or not. But it is necessary to correspond with the first movement of the inspiration, and to cultivate it, and then not to grow weary if disgust or coldness should follow; for, in acting thus, God will not fail to make all succeed to His glory.

Nor ought we to care much from what quarter the first movement comes. The Lord uses many means to call His servants. Sometimes He makes use of a sermon, at other times of the reading of good books. Some, as St. Anthony and St. Francis, have been called by hearing the words of the Gospel; others by means of afflictions and troubles that came upon them in the world, and which suggested to them the motive for leaving it. These persons, although they come to God only because they are disgusted with the world or have lost its favour, nevertheless, because they give themselves to Him with their whole will, become sometimes greater Saints than those who entered Religion with a more apparent Vocation. Father Platus relates that a nobleman, riding one day on a fine horse, and striving to make a great display in order to please some ladies whom he saw, was thrown from the horse into the mire from which he rose besmeared and covered with mud. He was so full of confusion at this accident that at the same moment he resolved to become a Religious, saying: "Treacherous world, thou hast mocked me, but I will mock thee. Thou hast played me a game, I will play thee another; for I will have no more peace with thee, and from this hour I resolve to forsake thee and to become a friar." And, in fact, he became a Religious and lived a holy life in Religion.

Evening Meditation

I. A man of sorrows, acquainted with infirmity. (Is.liii. 8).

Thus does the Prophet Isaias designate our Lord Jesus Christ -- the man of sorrows. Yes, because this Man was created on purpose to suffer, and from His infancy began to endure the greatest sorrows that any man had ever suffered. The first man, Adam, enjoyed for some time upon this earth the delights of the earthly Paradise; but the second Adam, Jesus Christ, did not pass a moment of His life without sorrows and anguish; for even as a Child He was afflicted by the foresight of all the sufferings and ignominy that He would have to endure during His life, and especially at His death, when He was to close that life immersed in a tempest of sorrow and opprobrium, as David had predicted: I am come into the depth of the sea, and a tempest hath overwhelmed me (Ps.lxviii. 3).

My sweetest Redeemer, when shall I begin to be grateful to Thy infinite goodness? When shall I begin to acknowledge the love that Thou hast borne me, and the sorrows Thou hast endured for me? Hitherto, instead of love and gratitude, I have returned Thee offences and contempt; shall I then continue to live always ungrateful to Thee, my God, Who hast spared nothing to acquire my love? No, my Jesus, it shall not be so. During the days that may yet remain to me I will be grateful to Thee; and Thou wilt, I trust, help me to be so. If I have offended Thee, Thy sufferings and Thy death are my hope. Thou hast promised to forgive the penitent. I repent with my whole soul of having despised Thee. Fulfil, therefore, Thy promise, my Beloved, and forgive me. O dearest Infant, I behold Thee in the manger already nailed to Thy Cross, which is constantly present to Thee, and which Thou dost already accept for me. O my crucified Babe, I thank Thee for it, and I love Thee.

II.Even from the womb of Mary, Jesus Christ accepted obediently the sacrifice which His Father had desired Him to make, even His Passion and Death: Becoming obedient unto death (Phil. ii. 8). So that even from the womb of Mary He foresaw the scourges and presented to them His flesh; He foresaw the thorns and presented to them His head; He foresaw the blows and presented to them His cheeks; He foresaw the nails and presented to them His hands and feet; He foresaw the Cross and offered His life. Hence it is true that even from His earliest infancy our Blessed Redeemer, every moment of His life, suffered a continual martyrdom; and He offered it every moment for us to His Eternal Father.

But what afflicted Him most was the sight of the sins which men would commit even after this painful Redemption. By His divine light He well knew the malice of every sin, and therefore did He come into the world to do away with all sins; but when He saw the immense number which would be committed, the sorrow that the Heart of Jesus felt was greater than all the sorrows that all men ever suffered or ever will suffer upon earth.

Stretched upon this straw, O my Jesus, suffering already for me, and preparing Thyself even now to die for the love of me, Thou dost command and invite me to love Thee: Love the Lord thy God. And I desire nothing more than to love Thee. Since, therefore, Thou willest that I should love Thee, give me all the love that Thou requirest of me; love for Thee is Thy gift, and the very greatest gift Thou canst make to a soul. Accept, O my Jesus! for Thy lover a sinner Who has so greatly offended Thee. Thou didst come from Heaven to seek the lost sheep; do Thou, therefore, seek me, and I will seek none other but Thee. Thou desirest my soul, and my soul desires nothing but Thee. Thou lovest him that loves Thee, and sayest: I love those that love me (Prov. viii. 17). I love Thee, do Thou also love me; and if Thou lovest me, bind me to Thy love; but bind me so that I may never again be able to disengage myself from Thee. Mary, my Mother, do thou help me. Let it be thy glory also to see thy Son loved by a miserable sinner, who has hitherto so greatly offended Him.
"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
Wednesday--Second Week of Advent

Morning Meditation

Consider the account which he will have to render to Jesus Christ on the Day of Judgment who does not follow his Vocation.

The grace of Vocation is a very rare grace which God grants only to a few. But the greater the grace, the greater will be the indignation of the Lord against him who does not correspond with it. He is the Lord. When He calls He wishes to be obeyed, and obeyed promptly.

I.The grace of Vocation to the Religious state is not an ordinary grace; it is a very rare one, which God grants only to a few. He hath not done so to every nation (Ps. cxlvii. 20). Oh, how much greater is this grace, to be called to a perfect life, and to become one of the household of God, than if one were called to be the king of any kingdom on this earth! For what comparison can there be between a temporal kingdom on this earth and the eternal kingdom of Heaven?

But the greater the grace, the greater will be the indignation of the Lord against him who has not corresponded with it, and the more rigorous will be His judgment on the day of account. If a king were to call a poor shepherd to his royal palace, to serve him among the noblemen of his court, what would not be the indignation of the king were he to refuse such a favour through unwillingness to leave his poor little hut and his little flock? God knows well the value of His graces, and therefore He chastises with severity those who despise them. He is the Lord; when He calls He wishes to be obeyed, and obeyed promptly.

O Lord, Thou hast shown me such an excess of bounty as to choose me from among so many others, to serve Thee in Thy own House with Thy most beloved servants. I know how great is that grace, and how unworthy of it I have been. Behold, I am now willing to correspond to so great a love. I will obey Thee. Since Thou hast been so liberal towards me as to call me when I did not seek Thee, and when I was so ungrateful, permit not that I should offer Thee that greater excess of ingratitude as to embrace again my enemy, the world, in which heretofore I have so oftentimes forfeited Thy grace and my eternal salvation, and thus to forsake Thee, Who hast shed Thy Blood and given Thy life for my sake. Since Thou hast called me, give me also the strength to correspond to the call. Already have I promised to obey Thee. I promise it again, but without the grace of perseverance I cannot be faithful to Thee. This perseverance I ask from Thee, and through Thy own merits it is that I wish it and hope to obtain it.

II.When, therefore, by His inspiration, God calls a soul to a perfect life, if it does not correspond He deprives it of His light, and abandons it to its own darkness. Oh, how many poor souls shall we see among the reprobate on the Day of Judgment for this very reason, that they were called and would not correspond!

Give thanks, then, to the Lord, Who has invited you to follow Him; but if you do not correspond, tremble! Since God calls you to serve near His Person, it is a sign that He wishes to save you. But He will have you to be saved in that path only which He indicates to you and has chosen for you. If you wish to save yourself on a road of your own choosing, there is great danger that you will not be saved at all; for if you remain in the world, when God wishes you to be a Religious, He will not give you those efficacious helps prepared for you had you lived in His House, and without those you will not save yourself. My sheep hear my voice (Jo. x. 27). He who will not obey the voice of God shows that he is not, and will not be, one of His sheep, but in the Valley of Josaphat, he will be condemned with the goats.

Give me courage, O my Jesus, to vanquish the passions of the flesh, through which the devil seeks to induce me to betray Thee. I love Thee, O my Jesus! To Thee I consecrate myself entirely. I am already Thine, I will be always Thine. O Mary, my Mother and my hope, thou art the Mother of perseverance. This grace is only dispensed through thy hands; do thou obtain it for me. In thee do I confide.

Spiritual Reading


He, then, who wishes to be faithful to the Divine call, ought not only to resolve to follow it, but to follow it promptly, as soon as ever he can, if he does not wish to expose himself to the evident danger of losing his Vocation. Should he, of necessity, be forced to wait, he ought to use all diligence to preserve it, as the most precious jewel he could possess.

The means to preserve one's Vocation are three in number:

1. Secrecy;
2. Prayer;
3. Recollection.

A. Secrecy

Generally speaking, he must keep his Vocation secret from everybody except his spiritual Father, because, commonly, people of the world scruple not to say to young people who are called to the Religious state, that one may serve God anywhere, and therefore in the world also. And the wonder is that such propositions come sometimes out of the mouths of priests, and even of Religious, but of such only who have become Religious without a Vocation, or do not know what Vocation means. Most certainly he who is not called to the Religious state may serve God in every place, but not so he who is called to Religion, and then from his own inclination wishes to remain in the world; such a one, as I have said before, can with difficulty lead a good life, and serve God.

It is especially necessary not to speak about Vocation to parents.

It was, indeed, the opinion of Luther, as Bellarmine relates, that children entering Religion without the consent of their parents commit a sin. For, said he, children are bound to obey their parents in all things. But this opinion has generally been rejected by Councils and the Holy Fathers. The Tenth Council of Toledo expressly declares that it is lawful for children to become Religious without the consent of their parents, provided they have attained the age of fourteen years. Here are the words of the Council: "It shall not be lawful for parents to put their children in a Religious Order after they have attained their fourteenth year. After this age, it shall be lawful for children to take upon themselves the yoke of Religious observance, whether it be with the consent of their parents, or only the wish of their own hearts." The same is taught by St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, St. Bernard, St. Thomas, and others, with St. John Chrysostom who writes: "When parents stand in the way of spiritual good, they ought not even to be recognised."

Some Doctors hold that when a child called by God to the Religious state can easily and securely obtain the consent of his parents, without any danger of their hindering him from following his Vocation, it is becoming that he should seek their blessing. This doctrine may be held speculatively, but not in practice, because in practice such a danger always exists. Hence it is well to discuss this point fully, in order to do away with the pharisaical scruples which some entertain.

It is certain that in the choice of a state of life, children are not bound to obey their parents. This is the common teaching of Doctors, with St. Thomas, who says: "Servants are not bound to obey their masters, or children their parents, with regard to contracting matrimony, preserving virginity, and such like things." Nevertheless, with regard to the state of marriage, Father Pinamonti, in his Treatise on Religious Vocation, rightly holds the opinion of Sanchez, Comminchio, and others, who teach that a child is bound to take counsel of his parents, because in such matters they have more experience than the young, and generally do their duty. But, speaking of Religious Vocation, he adds that a child is not bound at all to take counsel of his parents, because in this matter they have no experience, and through interest, are commonly changed into enemies, as St. Thomas also remarks when speaking of Religious Vocation. "Frequently," he says "our friends according to the flesh are opposed to our spiritual good." For fathers often prefer that their children should be damned with them rather than be saved away from them. Hence, St. Bernard exclaims: "O hard father, O cruel mother, whose consolation is the death of their son; who wish rather that I perish with them than reign without them!"

God, says a grave author, Porrecta, when He calls a person to a perfect life wishes him to forget his father, saying: Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline thine ear; and forget thy people and thy father's house (Ps. xliv. 11). By this, then, he adds, the Lord certainly admonishes us that he who is called ought by no means to allow the counsel of parents to intervene. "If God will have a soul, who is called by Him, to forget his father and his father's house, without doubt He suggests by this, that he who is called to the Religious state ought not, before he follows the call, to interpose the counsel of the carnal friends of his household."

St. Cyril, commenting on what Jesus Christ said to the youth mentioned above: No man putting his hand to the plough and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke ix. 61), says that he who asks for time to confer with his parents in reference to his Vocation is exactly the one who is declared by our Lord to be unfit for Heaven. "He looks back who seeks for delay that he may be able to confer with his parents." Hence, St. Thomas absolutely advises those who are called to Religion, to abstain from deliberating on their Vocation with their relatives: "From this deliberation, the relatives of the flesh are before all to be excluded; for it is said: Treat thy cause with thy friend (Prov. xxv. 9). Now our relatives are in this affair not our friends, but our enemies, according to the saying of our Lord: A man's enemies are they of his own household (Matt. x. 36)."

Evening Meditation

I. And the Word was made flesh (St. John i. 14).

Our Lord sent St. Augustine to write upon the heart of St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi the words, And the Word was made flesh. Oh, let us also pray the Lord to enlighten our minds, and to make us understand what an excess and what a miracle of love this is: that the Eternal Word, the Son of God, should have become Man for the love of us.

The Holy Church is struck with awe at the contemplation of this great Mystery: I considered thy works and was afraid. If God had created a thousand other worlds, a thousand times greater and more beautiful than the present, it is certain that this work would be infinitely less grand than the Incarnation of the Word: He hath showed might in his arm (Luke i. 51). To execute the great work of the Incarnation, it required all the omnipotence and infinite wisdom of God, in order to unite human nature to a Divine Person, and that a Divine Person should so humble Himself as to take upon Himself human nature. Thus God became Man, and Man became God; and hence, the Divinity of the Word being united to the soul and body of Jesus Christ, all the actions of this Man-God became divine: His prayers were divine, His sufferings divine, His infant cries divine, His tears divine, His steps divine, His members divine, His very Blood divine, which became, as it were, a fountain of health to wash out all our sins, and a Sacrifice of infinite value to appease the justice of the Father, Who was justly angered with men.

O Soul, O Body, O Blood of my Jesus! I adore you and thank you; you are my hope; you are the price paid to save me from hell, which I have so often merited. O my God! What a miserable and hopeless life would await me in eternity, if Thou, my Redeemer, hadst not thought of saving me by Thy sufferings and death! But how is it that souls, redeemed by Thee with so much love, knowing all this, can live without loving Thee, and can despise the grace which Thou hast acquired for them with so much suffering? And did not I also know all this? How, then, could I have offended Thee, and offend Thee so often? But, I repeat it, Thy Blood is my hope. I acknowledge, my Saviour, the great injuries that I have done Thee. Oh that I had rather died a thousand times! Oh, that I had always loved Thee!

II. And who, then, are these men? Miserable, ungrateful, and rebellious creatures! And yet for these God becomes Man; subjects Himself to human miseries; suffers and dies to save these unworthy sinners; He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross (Phil. ii. 8). O holy Faith! If Faith did not assure us of it, who would believe that a God of infinite majesty should abase Himself so far as to become a worm like us, in order to save us at the cost of so much suffering and disgrace, and of so cruel and shameful a death?

"O grace! O power of love!" cries out St. Bernard. O grace, which men could not even have imagined, if God Himself had not thought of granting it to us! O mercy! O infinite charity, worthy only of an infinite Bounty!

By Thy grace I now feel great sorrow for the offences I have committed against Thee; I feel within me an ardent desire of loving Thee; I feel fully resolved to lose everything rather than Thy friendship; I feel a love towards Thee that makes me abhor everything that displeases Thee. And this sorrow, this desire, this resolution, and this love, who is it that gives them to me? It is Thou, O Lord, in Thy great mercy. Therefore, my Jesus, this is a proof that Thou hast pardoned me; it is a proof that now Thou lovest me, and that Thou willest me at all costs to be saved; Thou willest that I should be saved, and I will save myself principally to give Thee pleasure. Thou lovest me, and I also love Thee; but my love is little indeed. Oh, give me more love; Thou deservest more love from me, for I have received from Thee more special favours than others: I pray Thee do Thou increase the flames of my love.

Most holy Mary, obtain for me that the love of Jesus may consume and destroy in me every affection that has not God for its object. Thou dost listen to the prayers of all that call on thee; listen to me also and obtain for me love and perseverance.
"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
Morning Meditation


Consider the torments of the soul of one in hell who lost his Vocation.

He will say: O fool that I was! I might have become a great Saint! And if I had obeyed the Call of God I should certainly have become a Saint, and now I am damned without remedy! Make your choice, for God leaves it in your own hands, to be a great king in Paradise, or a reprobate in hell.

I. The remorse for having lost, by one's own fault, some great good, or for having been the voluntary cause of some great evil to ourselves, is so great that even in this life it is an insupportable torment. But what torment will that youth, called by the singular favour of God to the Religious state, feel in hell when he perceives that if he had obeyed God he would have attained a high place in Paradise, and sees himself nevertheless confined in that prison of torments, without hope of remedy for this his eternal ruin! Their worm dieth not (Mark ix. 43).

This will be that worm, which, living always, will always gnaw his heart by continual remorse. Fool that I was! he will say, I might have become a great Saint. And if I had obeyed, I should certainly have become a Saint; and now I am damned without remedy.

Unfortunate man! For his greater torment, on the Day of Judgment, he will see and recognise at the right hand of God and crowned as Saints, those who followed their Vocation, and, leaving the world, retired to the House of God, to which he also had been called. He shall see himself separated from the company of the Blessed, and placed in the midst of that innumerable and miserable crew of the damned, for his disobedience to the voice of God.

No, my God, permit me not to disobey Thee and to be unfaithful. I see Thy goodness, and thank Thee, for instead of casting me away from Thy face, and banishing me to hell, as I have so often deserved, Thou callest me to become a Saint, and preparest for me a high place in Paradise. I see that I should deserve a double torment, should I not correspond with this grace -- a grace not given to all. I will obey Thee. Behold, I am Thine, and always will be Thine. I embrace with joy all the pains and discomforts of the Religious life, to which Thou invitest me. And what are these pains in comparison with the eternal pains, which I have deserved? I was entirely lost through my sins; now I give myself entirely to Thee. Dispose of me and my life as Thou pleasest.

II. We know well, as we have considered above, that to this most unhappy lot he exposes himself, who, in order to follow his own caprice, turns a deaf ear to the call of God. Therefore, my brother, you who have already been called to become a Saint in the House of God, consider that you will expose yourself to a great danger should you lose your Vocation through your own fault. Consider that this very Vocation which God in His Sovereign Bounty has given you, in order, as it were, to take you out from among the crowd, and place you among the chosen princes of His Paradise, will, through your own fault, should you be unfaithful to it, become a special hell for you. Make your own choice, then, for now God leaves it in your own hands, either to be a great king in Paradise, or a reprobate in hell, more full of despair than the rest.

Accept, O Lord, of one already at the gates of hell, as I have been, to serve Thee and love Thee in this life and in the next. I will love Thee as much as I have deserved to be doomed to hate Thee in hell, O God, worthy of an infinite love! O my Jesus Thou hast broken those chains by which the world held me captive; Thou hast delivered me from the servitude of my enemies. I will love Thee much, then, O my Love! and for the love I bear thee, I will always serve Thee and obey Thee. I will always thank thee, O Mary, my advocate, who hast obtained this mercy for me. Help me, and suffer me not to be ungrateful to that God Who has loved me so much. Obtain for me that I may die rather than be unfaithful to so great a grace. This is my hope.

Spiritual Reading

Secrecy (continued)

If, then, it would be a great mistake to ask the advice of parents in following one's Vocation, it would be a greater error still to ask their permission to follow it, and wait for their consent; for there would be an evident danger of losing the Vocation in so doing when there is a likely suspicion that parents would exert themselves to prevent it. Thus St. Thomas Aquinas acted, and St. Francis Xavier, St. Philip Neri and St. Louis Bertrand. And we know that the Lord approved, even by miracles, of their glorious flight.

St. Peter of Alcantara, when he went to the monastery to become a Religious, and was fleeing from the house of his mother under whose obedience he had lived since the death of his father, found himself prevented by a wide river from advancing any further. He recommended himself to God, and at the same instant saw himself transported to the other side.

In like manner, when St. Stanislaus Kotska fled from home, without the permission of his father, his brother set out after him in great haste in a carriage, but having almost overtaken him, the horses, in spite of all the violence used against them, would not advance a step further, till turning back towards the city, they began to travel at full speed.

In like manner the Blessed Oringa of Valdarno, in Tuscany, being promised in marriage to a young man, fled from the house of her parents in order to consecrate herself to God; but she was stopped by the river Arno. After a short prayer she saw it divide and form, as it were, two walls of crystal, to let her pass through with dry feet.

Therefore, my very beloved brother, if you are called by God to leave the world, be very careful not to make your resolution known to your parents, and, content to be thus blessed by God, seek to execute it as promptly as you can, and without their knowledge, if you would not expose yourself to the great danger of losing your Vocation. For, generally speaking, relatives, as has been said before, especially fathers and mothers, oppose the execution of such resolutions; and although they may be endowed with piety, nevertheless, interest and passion render them so blind that under various pretexts they scruple not to thwart with all their might the Vocation of their children.

We read in the Life of Father Paul Segneri, the Younger, that his mother, though a matron much given to prayer, left, nevertheless, no means untried to prevent her son from entering the Religious state to which he was called. We also read in the life of Mgr. Cavalieri, Bishop of Troja, that his father, although a man of great piety, used every means to prevent his son from entering the Congregation of Pious Workers (which, notwithstanding, he afterwards did), and even went so far as to bring against him a lawsuit in the Ecclesiastical Court. And how many other fathers, even though they were men of piety and prayer, have not in such cases been seen to change, and to become possessed, as it were, by the devil! For under no other circumstances does hell seem to employ more formidable arms than when there is a question of preventing those who are called to the Religious state from executing their resolution.*

For this reason be also very careful not to communicate your design to your friends, who will not scruple to dissuade you from it, or at least, to divulge the secret, so that the knowledge of it will easily come to the ears of your parents.

*St. Alphonsus had himself to suffer great opposition in following his Vocation. No one opposed him more than his own father. The mere thought of the separation broke the father's heart. One afternoon he entered the room of Alphonsus and taking him in his arms, cried out with sobs: My son, my son, why will you abandon me? What have I done that you should give me so much pain? Why should I be treated so? Have pity on me, and do not abandon me!" This struggle with a father's love lasted three long hours. Father and child were torn with grief. Alphonsus conquered; but he could never afterwards think of that struggle of three hours without a shudder. --EDITOR.

Evening Meditation


I. My sorrow is continually before me (Ps. xxxvii. 18).

Consider that all the sufferings and ignominy that Jesus endured in His life and death were present to Him from the first moment of His life: My sorrow is continually before me; and even from His childhood He began to offer them in satisfaction for our sins, beginning even then to fulfil His office as Redeemer. He revealed to one of His servants that from the commencement of His life even unto His death He suffered continually; and suffered so much for each of our sins that if He had had as many lives as there are men, He would as many times have died of sorrow, if God had not preserved His life that He might suffer more.

Oh, what a martyrdom did not the loving Heart of Jesus constantly endure in beholding all the sins of men! He beheld every single fault. Even whilst He was in the womb of Mary every particular sin passed in review before Jesus, and each sin afflicted Him immeasurably. St. Thomas says that this sorrow which Jesus Christ felt at the knowledge of the injury done to His Father, and of the evil that sin would occasion to the souls that He loved, surpassed the sorrows of all the contrite sinners that ever existed, even of those who died of pure sorrow; because no sinner ever loved God and his own soul as much as Jesus loved His Father and our souls.

Behold, my Jesus, at Thy feet, the ungrateful sinner, the persecutor who kept Thee in continual affliction during all Thy life. But I will say to Thee with Isaias: But thou hast delivered my soul that it should not perish; thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back (Is. xxxviii. 17). I have offended Thee. I have wounded Thee by so many sins; but Thou hast not refused to take upon Thy shoulders all my offences. I have voluntarily cast my soul into the fire of hell every time that I have consented to offend Thee gravely; and Thou, at the cost of Thy own Blood, hast continually liberated me and prevented me from being entirely lost. My beloved Redeemer, I thank Thee.

II. Wherefore that agony which our Redeemer suffered in the Garden at the sight of our sins was endured by Him even from His Mother's womb: I am poor, and in labours from my youth (Ps. lxxxvii. 16). Thus through the mouth of David did our Saviour prophesy of Himself that all His life would be a continual suffering. From this St. John Chrysostom deduces that we ought not to afflict ourselves for anything but for sin alone; and that since Jesus was afflicted all His life long on account of our sins, so we who have committed them ought to feel a continual sorrow for them, remembering that we have offended God Who has loved us so much. St. Margaret of Cortona never ceased to shed tears for her sins. One day her confessor said to her: "Margaret, no more tears! It is enough -- Our Lord has already forgiven thee." "What!" answered the Saint, "how can my tears and my sorrows suffice for the sins for which my Jesus was afflicted all His life long!"

O my Jesus, I could wish to die of sorrow when I think how I have abused Thy infinite goodness; forgive me, my Love, and come and take entire possession of my heart. Thou hast said that Thou wouldst not disdain to enter into the abode of him that opens to Thee, and to remain in his company: If any man shall open to me the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him (Apoc. iii. 20). If I have hitherto driven Thee away from me, I now love Thee and desire nothing but Thy favour. Behold, the door is open, enter Thou into my heart, but enter never to depart from it again. I am poor; but if Thou enter Thou wilt make me rich. I shall always be rich so long as I possess Thee, the Sovereign Good. O Queen of Heaven, sorrowful Mother of this suffering Son, I also have been a cause of sorrow to thee, because thou hast participated, in great measure, in the sufferings of Jesus. My Mother, do thou also forgive me, and obtain for me the grace to be faithful to thee, now that I hope my Jesus has returned into my soul.
"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
Friday--Second Week of Advent

Morning Meditation

Consider the immense glory that Religious will enjoy in Heaven.

He will render to everyone according to his works (Matt. xvi. 27).

From this you can judge how exceeding great will be the reward that God will give in Heaven to good Religious on account of the great merits they acquire every day. Going, they went and wept casting their seeds; but coming, they shall come with joyfulness, carrying their sheaves (Ps. cxxv. 6, 7).

I.Consider, in the first place, what St. Bernard says: that it is difficult for Religious who die in the Religious state to be damned. "From the cell to heaven the way is easy. One scarcely ever descends from the cell into hell." The reason the Saint adduces is: "because one scarcely ever perseveres in it until death unless he be predestinated." For it is with difficulty a Religious perseveres until death, if he be not of the number of the Elect of Paradise. Therefore, St. Laurence Justinian called the Religious state the gate of Paradise: "Of that heavenly city this is the gate." And he said that, therefore, "Religious have a great sign of predestination."

Consider, moreover, that the reward of Heaven, as the Apostle says, is a crown of justice (2 Tim. iv. 8). Wherefore, God, though He rewards us for our works more abundantly than we deserve, rewards us nevertheless in proportion to the works we have done. He will render to everyone according to his works. From this you can judge how exceedingly great will be the reward which God will give in Heaven to good Religious, in consideration of the great merits they daily acquire.

The Religious gives to God all his earthly goods and is content to be entirely poor, without possessing anything. The Religious renounces all attachment to his parents, friends, and country, in order to unite himself more closely to God. The Religious continually mortifies himself in many things which he would enjoy in the world. The Religious, finally, gives to God his whole self, by giving him his will through the Vow of Obedience.

The dearest thing that we have to give is our own will, and what God, of all other things, requires of us most is the heart, that is to say, the will. My son, give me thy heart. He who serves God in the world will give Him his possessions, but not himself; he will give Him a part and not the whole, for he will give Him indeed his goods by alms-deeds, his food by fasting, his blood by disciplines, etc. But he will always reserve for himself his own will, fasting when he pleases, praying when he likes. But the Religious, giving Him his own will, gives himself and gives all; gives not only the fruits of the tree, but the whole tree itself. Whence he may then truly say to Him: O Lord! having given Thee my will, I have nothing more to give Thee.

Is it possible, O my God and my true Lover! that Thou so much desirest my good, and to be loved by me, and that I, miserable that I am, desire so little to love and to please Thee? For what end hast Thou favoured me with so many graces, and taken me out of the world? O my Jesus! I understand Thee. Thou lovest me much, Thou wilt have me love Thee much, and be all Thine, in this life and in the next. Thou wishest that my love should not be divided with creatures, but wilt have it be wholly for Thyself, the only Good, the only lovely One, and worthy of infinite love. Ah! my Lord, my Treasure, my Love, my All! Yes, I pant and truly desire to love Thee, and to love no other but Thee.

II.And, therefore, in all that the Religious does through Obedience, he is sure to do the will of God perfectly, and merits by all he does, not only when he prays, when he hears confessions, when he preaches or fasts, or practises other mortifications, but also when he takes his food; when he sweeps his room, when he makes his bed, when he takes his rest, when he recreates himself; for, doing all this through Obedience, in all he does the will of God. St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi said that everything done through Obedience is a prayer. Hence, St. Anselm, speaking of those who love Obedience, asserted that all that Religious do is meritorious for them. St. Aloysius Gonzaga said that in Religion one travels, as it were, in a vessel in which even he who does not labour advances.

Oh, how much more will a Religious gain in one month by observing his Rule than a secular, with all his penance and prayers, in a year! Of that disciple of Dorotheus called Dositheus, it was revealed that for the five years he had lived under Obedience, there was given to him in Heaven the glory of St. Paul the Hermit, and of St. Anthony the Abbot, both of whom had, for so many years, lived in the desert. Religious, it is true, have to suffer the inconvenience of regular observance: Going, they went and wept. But when they are called to the other life they will go to Heaven, and ... with joyfulness, carrying their sheaves (Ps. cxxv. 6, 7). Whence they will sing: The lines are fallen unto me in goodly places, for my inheritance is goodly to me (Ps. xv. 6). These bonds which have bound me to the Lord have become for me exceedingly precious, and the glory they have acquired for me is exceedingly great.

I thank Thee, Jesus, for this desire Thou hast given me; preserve it in me, always increase it in me, and grant that I may please Thee, and love Thee on this earth as Thou desirest, so that I may come hereafter to love Thee face to face, with all my strength in Paradise. Behold, this is all that I ask from Thee. Thee will I love, O my God! I will love Thee; and for Thy love I offer myself to suffer every pain. I will become a Saint, not that I may enjoy great delight in Heaven, but to please Thee much, O my beloved Lord! and to love Thee much forever. Graciously hear me, O Eternal Father for the love of Jesus Christ.

My Mother Mary, for the love of this thy Son, help thou me. Thou art my hope; from thee I hope for every good.

Spiritual Reading


B. Prayer

In the second place, it is necessary to remember that these Vocations are only preserved by prayer; he who gives up prayer will certainly lose his Vocation. It is necessary to pray, and to pray much; and, therefore, let him who feels himself called, not omit to make every morning after rising, an hour's Meditation, or at least one for half an hour, in his own room, if he can do so without molestation, and, if not, in the church; and likewise for half an hour in the evening.

Let him not omit also to make every day a Visit to the Most Holy Sacrament, and to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, in order to obtain the grace of perseverance in his Vocation, and let him not omit to receive Holy Communion three times, or at least, twice a week.

His Meditations ought almost always to be on his Vocation, considering how great a favour he has received from God, in being thus called by Him; how much more easily he will secure his eternal salvation, if he be faithful in following it; and on the contrary, to how great a danger of being lost he exposes himself, if he be unfaithful. Let him then especially keep before his eyes the hour of death, and consider the contentment that he will then feel if he shall have obeyed God, and the pains and the remorse he will experience if he should die in the world. To this end I shall add some Considerations on which he may make his Meditation.*

It is, moreover, necessary that all his prayers to Jesus and Mary, and especially those after Communion and in the Visits, be directed to obtain perseverance. In these prayers and Communions let him always renew the offering of himself to God, saying: "Behold, O Lord! I am no longer mine own. I am Thine. Already have I given myself to Thee, and now I renew this my offering of my whole self. Accept of me and give me strength to be faithful to Thee and to retire as quickly as possible into Thy House."

*These are the Considerations that commenced on the Second Monday of Advent, and are being given as Morning Meditations.

C. Recollection

In the third place, it is necessary to be recollected. This will not be possible unless he withdraws from worldly reunions and secular amusements. And, indeed, as long as we are in the world, what suffices to cause the loss of Vocation? A mere nothing. One day of dissipation, a word from a friend, a passion not mortified, a little attachment, some groundless fear, some slothfulness not overcome -- any one of these suffices to bring to nought all one's good resolutions of retiring from the world, and of giving oneself entirely to God. Wherefore, he who is called to Religion ought to keep perfectly recollected, detaching himself from everything of this world. His occupation while waiting should be prayer and frequenting the Sacraments; and he should pass his time at home or in church. Let him who will not act thus, but who distracts himself by pastimes, be persuaded that he will undoubtedly lose his Vocation. He will, indeed, feel remorse for not following his Vocation, but he certainly will not follow it. Oh, how many by neglecting these precautions have lost their Vocation, and afterwards their souls!

(To be said often and fervently)

My Lord Jesus Christ, Who didst choose for Thyself the most bitter death of the Cross that I might die a happy death -- ah, since Thou hast so loved me as to call me out of the world to follow in Thy footsteps and be thus always united to Thy loving Heart, bind me, I beseech Thee, dear Jesus, with the sweet chain of Thy love wholly to Thyself that I may never more be separated from Thee. O my beloved Redeemer, I do desire to be grateful, and faithful to Thy grace and to my Vocation, but I fear lest, through my own weakness, I should be faithless. My Jesus, do not allow that it should be so. No! Let me die rather than that I should ever abandon Thee. May I never forget the special love which Thou hast shown me. I love Thee, my dear Saviour. Thou art now and wilt ever be the only Master of my heart and soul. I quit all and choose Thee alone for my only Treasure.

Go, creatures -- go far away! My God is my only Good. He is my Love. He is my All! My Jesus, I love Thee, and in loving Thee I wish to spend my whole life, be it long or short. I embrace Thee. I clasp Thee to my heart. In Thy loving arms I wish to die. This grace I ask for, and I care for nothing else.

Make me live always burning with Thy love, and when my end shall have at length come, let me give forth my last breath in an ardent act of love to Thee. O Mary Immaculate, do thou obtain for me this grace. My hope is in thy powerful intercession. Help me to forsake the world. Come to my rescue now. Succour me and obtain for me the grace to overcome myself and to become a Saint. Amen.

Evening Meditation

I. I have a baptism wherewith I am to be baptised and how am I straitened until it be accomplished? (Luke xii. 50).

Consider how Jesus suffered even from the first moment of His life, and all for love of us. During the whole of His life He had no other interest, after the glory of God, than our salvation. He, as the Son of God, had no need to suffer in order to deserve Paradise; but whatever He suffered of pain, of poverty, of ignominy, He applied it all towards meriting for us eternal salvation. And even though He could have saved us without suffering, yet He chose to embrace a life of nothing but sufferings, poor, despised, and deprived of every comfort, with a death the most desolate and bitter that was ever endured by any Martyr or penitent, only to make us understand the greatness of the love He bore us, and to gain our affections.

He lived thirty-three years, and He lived sighing for the hour in which He was to sacrifice His life, which He desired to offer up to obtain for us divine grace and eternal glory, in order that He might have us with Him forever in Paradise.

My beloved Redeemer, I am also one of those ungrateful wretches who have repaid Thy immense love, Thy sorrows, and Thy death, with offences and contempt. O my dearest Jesus! how is it possible that, seeing as Thou didst the ingratitude that I should show Thee for all Thy mercies, Thou couldst yet love me so much, and resolve to endure so much contempt and suffering for me! But I will not despair. The evil is already done. Give me, therefore, O my Saviour, that sorrow which Thou hast merited for me by Thy tears; but let it be a sorrow equal to my iniquities. O loving Heart of my Saviour, once so afflicted and desolate for my sake, and now all burning with love for me, I beseech Thee change my heart, give me a heart that will make reparation for the offences I have committed against Thee -- a love that will equal my ingratitude!

II.It was this desire which made Jesus say: I have a baptism wherewith I am to be baptised; and how am I straitened until it be accomplished? He desired to be baptised with His own Blood, not to wash out His own sins, since He was innocent and holy, but the sins of men whom He loved so much: He loved us, and washed us in his own blood (Apoc. i. 5). Oh, excess of the love of God, which all the men and Angels that ever existed will never succeed in understanding or praising as it deserves.

St. Bonaventure weeps at seeing the great ingratitude of men for so great a love: "It is a cause for wonder that the hearts of men do not break for love of Thee." It is a marvel, says the Saint, to see a God endure such sufferings, shedding tears in a stable, poor in a workshop, languishing on a Cross; in short afflicted and tormented; the whole of His life for the love of men; and then to see these men, who not only do not burn with love towards such a loving God, but even have the boldness to despise His love and His grace. O Lord, how is it possible to conceive that a God should have given Himself up to so much suffering for men, and yet that there should be men who can offend, and not love this merciful God!

I give Thee thanks, my Saviour, because I see that Thy mercy has already changed my heart. I hate, above every evil, the insults I have offered Thee; I detest them, I abhor them. I now esteem Thy friendship above all the riches and kingdoms of the world. I desire to please Thee as much as it is possible for me; I love Thee, Who art infinitely amiable; but I see that my love is too feeble. Do Thou increase the flame, give me more love. Thy love for me ought to be responded to by a greater degreee of love in me, who have so much offended Thee, and who, instead of chastisement, have received so many special favours from Thee. O Sovereign Good, permit me not to be any longer ungrateful for all the favours Thou hast bestowed upon me. I will say with St. Francis: "May I die, Lord, for the love of Thy love, Who for the love of my love didst deign to die!" Mary, my hope, help me; pray to Jesus for me!
"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
Saturday--Second Week of Advent

Morning Meditation

Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come! (Cant. ii. 10).

Mary well understood the voice of God calling her to devote herself to His love. And thus enlightened she at once offered herself to her Lord. Behold, O Mary, I this day present myself to thee, and in union with thee I renounce all creatures and devote myself entirely to the love of my Creator.

I. Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline thine ear; and forget thy people and thy father's house (Ps. xliv. 11). The holy Virgin obeyed this divine call with promptitude and with generosity. From the first moment that the heavenly child was sanctified in her mother's womb, which was at the instant of her Immaculate Conception, she received the perfect use of reason and she began to merit. And immediately, as an Angel revealed to St. Bridget, our Queen determined to sacrifice her will to God, and to give Him all her love for the whole of her life.

Mary, hearing that her holy parents, St. Joachim and St. Anne, had consecrated her by Vow to God, requested them with earnestness to take her to the Temple, and accomplish their promise. At the age of three years, as St. Epiphanius tells us -- an age at which children are the most desirous and stand in the greatest need of their parents' care -- Mary desired to consecrate herself to God.

Behold, then, Joachim and Anne, generously sacrificing to God the most precious treasure they possessed in the world, and the treasure dearest to their hearts. They set forth from Nazareth carrying their well-beloved little daughter in turn, for she could not otherwise have undertaken so long a journey as that from Nazareth to Jerusalem, a distance of eighty miles. They were accompanied by few relatives, but choirs of Angels escorted and served the Immaculate little Virgin, who was about to consecrate herself to the Divine Majesty. How beautiful are thy steps ... O prince's daughter. (Cant. vii. 1). "O how beautiful," must the Angels have sung, "how acceptable to God is thy every step taken on the way to present and offer thyself to Him, O noble daughter, most beloved of our common Lord!"

O beloved Mother of God, most amiable child, Mary, who didst present thyself in the Temple, and with promptitude and without reserve didst consecrate thyself to the glory and love of God; O that I could offer thee this day the first years of my life, to devote myself without reserve to thy service, my holy and most sweet Lady! But it is now too late to do this, for I have lost many years in the service of the world. Woe to that time in which I did not love thee! But it is better to begin, now at last than not at all. O Mary, I this day present myself to thee, and in union with thee I renounce all creatures and devote myself entirely to the love of my Creator. Do thou help my weakness by thy powerful intercession.

II. God Himself with the whole Heavenly Court made great rejoicings on the day that Mary presented herself to be His Spouse in the Temple. For He never saw a more holy creature, or one He so tenderly loved, come to offer herself to Him.

When the holy company reached the Temple the fair child turned to her parents and, on her knees, kissed their hands and asked their blessing; and then without turning back, she ascended the steps of the Temple. She bade farewell to the world, and renouncing all the pleasures it promises to its votaries, she offered and consecrated herself to her Creator.

At the time of the Deluge a raven sent out by Noe, remained to feed on the dead bodies; but the dove, without resting her foot, quickly returned to him into the ark (Gen. vii. 9). Many who are sent by God into this world unfortunately remain to feed on earthly goods. It was not thus our heavenly dove, Mary, acted. She knew that God should be our only Good, our only Hope, our only Love; and she knew that the world is full of dangers, and that he who leaves it the soonest is most free from its snares. Hence she sought to do this from her tenderest years, and as soon as possible shut herself up in the sacred retirement of the Temple, where she could the better hear God's voice, and honour and love Him more. Rejoice with me, all ye who love God, for when I was a little one I pleased the Most High. (Off. B.V.M.).

O happy Virgin Mary, who didst begin so soon to serve God, and who didst always serve Him so faithfully! Ah, cast a look on me who have returned to Him with such tardiness, after so many years lost in the love of creatures. Obtain for me the grace to give God at least the remainder of my life, be it long or short. Teach me, O Lady, what I should now do to belong entirely to God, and thus to repair the time I have lost. Thou hast already done so much for me, finish the work of my salvation. Do not abandon me till thou seest me safe at thy feet in Paradise. Amen.

Spiritual Reading



He who is called by God to a Religious Institute in which regular observance reigns should understand that the end of every such Institute is that its members walk in the footsteps and imitate as exactly as possible the example of the most holy life of Jesus Christ -- a life entirely detached and mortified, full of sufferings and humiliations. I have said an Institute in which regular observance reigns, for it would be better, perhaps, to remain in the world than to enter a Religious Institute that is relaxed.* He, then, who resolves to enter such a Religious Institute must, at the same time, resolve to enter in order to suffer and deny himself in everything, as Jesus Christ has Himself declared to those who wish to follow Him perfectly: If any man will come after me let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. He must be firm in his resolution to suffer, and to suffer much, so that afterwards he may not give way to temptations, when, having entered Religion, he feels pressed down under the hardships and privations of the poor and mortified life which is led in Religion.

*"Si Institutum relaxatum est, melius erit alicui, ordinarie loquendo, quod in saeculo remaneat." (Homo Apost.: Tract. Ult. 39).

There are many who, on entering a fervent Community, do not take the proper means of finding peace therein, and of becoming Saints, because they only place before their eyes the advantages of Community life, such as the solitude, the quiet, the freedom from the troubles caused by relatives, from strife and other disagreeable matters, and from the cares consequent on being obliged to think of one's lodging, food, and clothing.

There is no doubt that a Religious is, indeed, much indebted to his Institute, which delivers him from so many troubles, and thus procures for him so great a facility to serve God perfectly in peace, continually furnishing him with so many means for the welfare of his soul, with the good example of his companions, and good advice from his Superiors, who are watchful for his benefit, and with so many exercises conducive to eternal salvation. All this is true; but in order not to be deprived of so blessed a lot, he must resolve to embrace all the sufferings he may, on the other hand, meet with in Religion; for if he does not embrace these with love, he will never obtain that full peace which God gives to those who overcome themselves: To him that overcomes I will give the hidden manna (Apoc. ii. 17). For the peace which God gives His faithful servants to taste is hidden; nor is it known to men of the world, who, seeing their mortified life, far from envying, pity them and call them the unhappy ones of this earth! But "they see the Cross, the unction they do not see," says St. Bernard. They see their mortification, but they do not see the contentment which God gives them to enjoy.

It is true that in the spiritual life one has to suffer, but, as St. Teresa says, when one resolves to suffer the pain ceases. Nay, the pains themselves turn into joy. "My daughter," so the Lord said one day to St. Bridget, "the treasure-house of My graces seems to be surrounded with thorns; but for him who overcomes the first prickles, all is changed into sweetness." And then those delights which God gives to His beloved souls in their prayers, in their Communions, in their solitude; those lights, those holy ardours and that intimate union with God, that quiet of conscience, that blessed hope of eternal life -- ah, who can understand them, if he does not experience them? "One drop of the consolations of God," says St. Teresa, "is worth more than all the consolations and the delights of the world." Our most gracious God knows well how, even in this valley of tears, to give him who suffers something for His sake, a foretaste of the glory of the Blessed; for in this is truly verified that which David says: Thou who feignest labour in commandment (Ps. xciii. 20). In the spiritual life, God, when announcing pains, tediousness, death, seems to feign labour, but, in fact, there is no labour; for the spiritual life brings to them who entirely give themselves to God that peace which, St. Paul says, surpasseth all understanding (Phil. iv. 7). It surpasses all the pleasures of the world and of worldlings. Hence we see a Religious more content in a poor cell than all the monarchs in their royal palaces. O taste, and see that the Lord is sweet (Ps. xxxiii. 9). He who has not made the trial cannot understand it.

On the other hand, he who does not resolve to suffer and to overcome himself in what is distasteful, must be persuaded that he will never enjoy this true peace, though he should have already entered Religion. To him that overcomes, I will give the hidden manna (Apoc. ii. 17). It is then necessary that he who wishes to be admitted into an Institute of observance should enter with a mind determined to overcome himself in everything, by expelling from his heart every inclination and desire that is not from God, or for God. Hence he must detach himself from all things, and especially from the following: Comforts, Parents, Self-esteem, and Self-will.

Evening Meditation


What profit is there in my blood, whilst I go down to corruption (Ps. xxix. 10).

Jesus Christ revealed to the Venerable Agatha of the Cross that whilst He was in His Mother's womb, that which afflicted Him more than any other sorrow was the hardness of the hearts of men, who would, after His Redemption, despise the graces which He came into the world to diffuse. And He had expressed this sentiment before, by the mouth of David, in the words just quoted, which are generally thus understood by the holy Fathers: What profit is there in my blood, whilst I go down to corruption? St. Isidore explains whilst I descend into corruption "whilst I descend to take the nature of man, so corrupted by vices and sins"; as if He had said: "O my Father, I am indeed going to clothe Myself with human flesh, in order to shed My Blood for men; but what profit is there in my blood? The greater part of the world will set no value on My Blood, and will go on offending Me, as if I had done nothing for the love of them."

This sorrow was the bitter chalice which Jesus begged the Eternal Father to remove from Him, saying: Let this chalice pass from me. (Matt. xxvi. 39). What chalice? The sight of the contempt with which His love was treated. This made Him exclaim again on the Cross: My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me? (Matt. xxvii. 46). Our Lord revealed to St. Catherine of Sienna that this was the abandonment of which He complained -- the knowledge, namely, that His Father would have to permit that His Passion and His love should be despised by so many men for whom He died.

O my most amiable Jesus, how much have I, too, caused Thee to suffer during Thy lifetime! Thou hast shed Thy Blood for me with so much sorrow and love, and what fruit hast Thou hitherto drawn from me but contempt, offences, and insults? But, my Redeemer, I will no longer afflict Thee; I hope that in future Thy Passion will produce fruit in me by Thy grace, which I feel is already assisting me. I will love Thee above every other good; and to please Thee, I am ready to give my life a thousand times.

II. And this same sorrow tormented the Infant Jesus in the womb of Mary, the foresight of such a prodigality of sorrows, of ignominy, of blood-shedding, and of so cruel and ignominious a death, and all to so little purpose. The holy Child saw, even there, what the Apostle says: that many, indeed the greater number, would trample under foot His Blood and despise His grace, which this Blood would obtain for them: Treading under foot the Son of God ... and offering an affront to the Spirit of grace (Heb. x. 29). But if we have been of the number of those ungrateful men, let us not despair. Jesus, at His birth, came to offer peace to men of goodwill, as He made the Angels sing: And on earth peace to men of good-will (Luke ii. 14). Let us, then, change our will, repent of our sins, and resolve to love this good God, and we shall find peace, that is, the Divine friendship.

Eternal Father, I should not have the boldness to appear before Thee to implore either pardon or grace, but Thy Son has told me, that whatever grace I ask of Thee in His Name Thou wilt grant it to me: If ye shall ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you (Jo. xvi. 23). I offer Thee, therefore, the merits of Jesus Christ, and in His Name I ask of Thee first a general pardon for all my sins; I ask holy perseverance even unto death; I ask of Thee, above all, the gift of Thy holy love, that it may make me always live according to Thy divine will. As to my own will, I am resolved to choose a thousand deaths sooner than offend Thee, and to love Thee with my whole heart, and to do everything that I possibly can to please Thee. But in order to do all this, I beg of Thee, and hope to receive from Thee, grace to execute what I propose. My Mother Mary, if Thou wilt pray for me I am safe. Oh, pray for me, pray; and cease not to pray until thou seest that I am changed, and made what God wishes me to be.
"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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A reminder ....
"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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