St. Alphonsus Liguori: Daily Meditations for the Third Week of Advent
Monday--Third Week of Advent

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Morning Meditation

Consider the peace that God gives to good Religious.

St. Teresa used to say that one drop of heavenly consolation is worth more than all the delights of the world. Oh, what contentment does he not find, who, having left all for God, is able to say with St. Francis: "Deus meus et omnia!" -- My God and my All! -- free from the world's slavery, and enjoying the liberty of the Children of God.

I. The promises of God cannot fail. God has said: Every one 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 an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting (Matt. xix. 29). That is to say, a hundredfold on this earth, and life everlasting in Heaven.

Peace of the soul is of greater value than all the kingdoms of the world. And what avails it to have dominion over the whole world without interior peace? Better is it to be the poorest peasant in the land and content, than to be the lord of the whole world, and to live a discontented life. But who can give this peace? The world? Oh no, peace is a blessing that is obtained only from God. "O God!" the Church prays, "give to Thy servants that peace which the world cannot give." He is called the God of all consolation (2 Cor. i. 3). But if God be the sole Giver of peace, to whom, think you, will He give that peace if not to those who leave all, and detach themselves from all creatures, in order to give themselves entirely to their Creator? And therefore we see good Religious shut up in their cells, mortified, despised and poor, yet living a more contented life than the great ones of the world, with all the riches, the pomps, and diversions they enjoy.

St. Scholastica said that if men knew the peace good Religious enjoy, the whole world would become a monastery; and St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi said that if men knew it they would scale the walls in order to get into the monasteries. The human heart having been created for an infinite Good, finite creatures cannot content it. God alone, Who is an Infinite Good can content it: Delight in the Lord and he will give thee the request of thy heart (Ps. xxxvi. 4). Oh no; a good Religious united with God envies none of the princes of the world who possess kingdoms, riches and honours. "Let the rich," he will say with St. Paulinus, "have their riches, the kings have their kingdoms, to me Christ is my kingdom and my glory." He will see lovers of the world foolishly glory in pomp and vanity; but he, seeking to detach himself more from earthly things, and to unite himself more closely to God, will live contented in this life, and may well say: Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we call upon the name of the Lord, our God (Ps. xix. 8).

O my Lord and my God, my All! I know that Thou alone canst make me contented in this life and in the next. But I will not love Thee for my own contentment; I will love Thee to content Thy divine Heart. I wish this to be my peace, my only satisfaction during my whole life, to unite my will to Thy holy will, even should I have to suffer pain in order to do this. Thou art my God, I am Thy creature.

II. St. Teresa used to say that one drop of heavenly consolation is worth more than all the delights of the world. Father Charles of Lorraine, having become a Religious, said that God, by one moment of the happiness that He gave him to feel in Religion, superabundantly paid him for all he had left for God. Hence his jubilation was sometimes so great that, when alone in his cell, he could not help dancing for very joy. The Blessed Seraphino of Ascoli, a Capuchin Lay-brother, said that he would not exchange a foot length of his cord for all the kingdoms of the world.

Oh, what contentment does he not find, who, having left all for God is able to say with St. Francis: "My God and my All!" and to see himself thus freed from the servitude of the world, from the thraldom of worldly fashion, and from all purely earthly affections. This is the liberty enjoyed by the children of God, and such good Religious are. It is true that in the beginning, the deprivation of the reunions and pastimes of the world, the observances in Community and of the Rules, seem to be thorns; but these thorns, as Our Lord said to St. Bridget, will all become flowers and delights of Paradise to him who courageously bears their first prickles, and then he will taste on earth that peace which, St. Paul says, surpasseth all the gratification of the senses, the enjoyments of feasts, of banquets, and other pleasures of the world: The peace of God which surpasseth all understanding (Phil. iv. 7). And what greater peace can there be than to know that one pleases God?

And what greater good can I hope for than to please Thee, my Lord and my God, Who hast been so partial in Thy love towards me. Thou, O my Jesus, hast left Heaven to live for love of me a poor and mortified life. I leave all to live only for Thee, my most Blessed Redeemer. I love Thee with my whole heart. If only Thou wilt give me the grace to love Thee, treat me as Thou pleasest.

O Mary, Mother of God, protect me and render me like to thee, not in thy glory which I do not deserve, but in pleasing God, and obeying His Holy Will, as thou didst. Amen.

Spiritual Reading



I. From Comforts

In Religion, after the year's Novitiate, besides the Vows of Chastity and Obedience, a Vow of Poverty is made, in consequence of which, if solemn, one can never possess anything as one's own, not even a pin, or income, or money, or any other things. The Community will provide him with all that he needs. But the Vow of Poverty alone will not make one a true follower of Jesus Christ if he does not embrace with joy of spirit all the inconveniences of Poverty. "Not poverty but the love of poverty, is a virtue," says St. Bernard, and he means to say that to become holy it is not enough to be simply poor -- one must also love the inconveniences of poverty. "Oh, how many wish to be poor and like to Jesus Christ," says Thomas a Kempis, "but without wanting for anything!" They would have, in a word, the honour and reward of Poverty, but not the inconveniences of Poverty. It is easy to understand that in Religion no one will seek for things that are superfluous -- garments of silk, choice dishes, valuable furniture, and the like; but he will desire to have all things that are necessary, and these he may be unable to get. It is then he gives proof that he truly loves Poverty, when things that are necessary -- such as the usual clothing, bed-covering or food -- happen to be wanting, if he remains content and is not troubled. And what kind of Poverty would that be never to suffer the want of anything necessary? Father Balthasar Alvarez says that in order truly to love Poverty, we must also love the effects of poverty; that is, as he specifies them: cold, hunger, thirst and contempt.

A Religious must not only be content with that which is given to him, without ever asking for anything which the officials of the Community may have forgotten to furnish him with -- which would be a great defect -- but he must be prepared to suffer, now and then, the want even of those simple things that the Rule allows. For it may happen that sometimes he is in want of clothing, bed-covering, linen, food, and such-like things, and then he has to be satisfied with that little which can be given him, without complaining or being disquieted at seeing himself in want even of what is necessary. He who has not this spirit, ought not to think of entering Religion, because it is a sign that he is not called thereto, or that he has not the will to embrace the spirit of a Religious Institute. "He who goes to serve God in His House," says St. Teresa, "ought to consider that he is going, not to be well treated for God, but to suffer for God."

II. From Relations

He who would enter Religion should be detached from and forget his relations, for, in Religious houses of exact observance, detachment from relations is enforced in the highest degree, in order to follow perfectly the teaching of Jesus Christ Who said: I came not to send peace but the sword: I came to set a man at variance with his father (Matt. x. 34, 35); and He added the reason: A man's enemies shall be they of his own household (Ib. 36). And this is especially the case, as has been remarked already, where there is a question of a Religious Vocation. When a person called by God wishes to leave the world, there are no worse enemies than parents, who, either through interest or passion, prefer to become enemies of God, by turning their children away from their Vocation, rather than give their consent. Oh! how many parents shall we see in the Valley of Josaphat damned for having made their children lose their Religious Vocation! and how many youths shall we see lost who, in order to please their parents, and by not detaching themselves from them, have lost their Vocation and afterwards their souls! Hence, Jesus declares to us: If any man hate not his father and mother and wife and children and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life, he cannot be my disciple (Luke xiv. 26). Let him, then, who wishes to enter a Religious Institute of perfect observance, and to become a true disciple of Jesus Christ, resolve to detach himself from his parents.

And should he have already entered Religion, let him remember that he must practise this same detachment. Let him know that he cannot go to visit his parents in their own house, except in the case of some dangerous illness of his father or mother, or of some urgent necessity, and always with the permission of the Superior. To go to the house of one's parents without this permission would be considered in Religion a most notable and scandalous fault. In Religion it is considered a defect even to ask permission or to show a desire of seeing parents or of speaking with them.

St. Charles Borromeo said that when he visited his family he always, on his return, found himself less fervent in spirit. And let him who goes to his relations by his own will and not through a positive obedience to his Superiors, be persuaded that he will return either tempted or lukewarm.

St. Vincent de Paul could only be induced once to visit his country and his parents, and this out of pure necessity. He said that the love of home and country was a great impediment to his spiritual progress. He narrated how many, on account of having visited their home, had become so tender towards their relatives that they were like flies, which being once entangled in a cobweb, cannot extricate themselves from it. He added: "For that one visit of mine, though it was for a short time only, and though I took care to remove from my relatives every hope of help from me, I, nevertheless, felt at leaving them such pain that I ceased not to weep all along the road, and was for three months harassed by the thought of succouring them. Finally, God in His mercy, took the temptation from me."

Let him know, moreover, that no one can write letters without permission, and without showing them to the Superior. He who would act otherwise would be guilty of a fault that is not to be tolerated in Religion, and he should be punished with severity; for from this might come a thousand disorders tending to destroy the religious spirit. But they especially who have just entered should know that this rule is enforced with the greatest rigour; for novices, during their year of Novitiate, do not easily obtain permission to talk to their parents, or to write to them.

Finally, let it be remembered that should a subject fall ill, it would be a notable defect in him to ask or to show an inclination to go to his own home for his restoration to health, under the plea of better attendance, or of enjoying the benefit of his native air. The air of his own country is almost always, if not indeed always, hurtful and pestilential to the spirit of the subject. And if he should say that he wishes to be cured at home in order to save the Institute expense for remedies, this is no excuse, for he should know that the sick are treated with all care and charity in Religion. As for change of air, the Superiors will think of that; and if the air of one house is not beneficial to him, they will send him to another. And as for remedies, they will even sell their books, if need be, to provide for the sick. And thus he need not fear that Divine Providence will fail him. And if the Lord does not wish his recovery, he ought to conform to the will of God, without even mentioning the word "home." The greatest grace that he who enters Religion can desire is to die, when God wills it, in the House of God, assisted by his brethren in Religion, and not in his home in the world in the midst of his relatives.

Evening Meditation


I.Ye shall draw waters with joy out of the Saviour's fountains (Is. xii. 3).

Consider the four Fountains of grace that we have in Jesus Christ, as contemplated by St. Bernard.

The first is that of Mercy, in which we can wash ourselves from all the filthiness of our sins. This fountain was provided for us by our Redeemer with His tears and His Blood: He loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood (Apoc. i. 5).

The second Fountain is that of Peace and Consolation in our tribulations: Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will console thee (Ps. xlix. 15). He that thirsteth, let him come to me, says Jesus (Jo. vii. 37). He that thirsteth for true consolations even in this world, let him come to me, for I will satisfy him. He that once tastes the sweetness of My love will forever disdain all the delights of the world: But he that shall drink of the water that I will give him shall not thirst forever (Jo. iv. 13). And thoroughly contented will he be when he shall enter into the kingdom of the blessed, for the water of My grace shall raise him from earth to Heaven. It will become in him a fountain of water springing up into life everlasting (Ibid. 14). The peace which God gives to souls that love Him is not the peace that the world promises from sensual pleasures, which leave behind more bitterness than peace: the peace which God bestows exceeds all the delights of the senses: Peace which surpasseth all understanding. Blessed are those who long for this divine fountain. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice (Matt. v. 6).

O my sweet and dearest Saviour, how much do I not owe Thee? How much hast Thou not obliged me to love Thee, since Thou hast done for me what no servant would have done for his master, no son for his father. If Thou, therefore, hast loved me more than any other, it is just that I should love Thee above all others. I could wish to die of sorrow at the thought that Thou hast suffered so much for me, and that Thou even didst accept for my sake the most painful and ignominious death that a man could endure, and yet I have so often despised Thy friendship. But Thy merits are my hope.

The third Fountain is that of Devotion. Oh, how devoted and ready to follow the divine inspiration and increase always in virtue does not he become who often meditates on all that Jesus Christ has done for our sake! He will be like the tree planted by a stream of water. He shall be like a tree that is planted near the running waters (Ps. i. 3).

The fourth Fountain is that of Charity. In my meditation a fire shall flame out (Ps. xxxviii. 4). It is impossible to meditate on the sufferings and ignominy borne by Jesus Christ for the love of us and not to feel inflamed by that blessed fire which He came upon earth to kindle. How true it is then, that he who betakes himself to these blessed Fountains of Jesus Christ will always draw from them waters of joy and salvation! You shall draw waters with joy out of the Saviour's Fountains.

Ah, my dear Jesus, I too desire to be reckoned amongst the number of Thy lovers. I now esteem Thy grace above all the kingdoms of the earth. I love Thee, and for Thy love I accept every suffering, even death itself. And if I am not worthy to die for Thy glory by the hand of executioners, I accept willingly, at least, that death which Thou hast determined for me; I accept it in the manner and at the time that Thou shalt choose. My Mother Mary, do thou obtain for me the grace always to live and die, loving Jesus.
"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--Third Week of Advent

Morning Meditation


Consider the harm done to Religious by tepidity.

Negligent souls are commonly abandoned by God. St. Teresa saw the place prepared for her in hell had she not detached herself from a certain worldly affection which, however, was but slightly culpable. He that contemneth small things shall fall by little and little (Ecclus. xix. 1).

I. Consider the misery of the Religious who, after having left his home, his parents, and the world with all its pleasures, and after having given himself to Jesus Christ, consecrating to Him his will and his liberty, exposes himself to the danger of being damned by leading a lukewarm and negligent life. Alas! such a Religious is not far from perdition, who, called into the House of God to become a Saint, leads a lukewarm life. God threatens to reject and abandon such Religious if they do not amend: But because thou art lukewarm I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth (Apoc. iii. 16).

St. Ignatius of Loyola, seeing that a Lay-brother of the Society had become lukewarm in the service of God, called him one day and said to him: "Tell me, my brother, why did you come into Religion?" He answered "To serve God." "O my brother!" replied the Saint, "what have you said? If you had answered that you had come to serve a Cardinal, or a prince of this earth, you would be more excusable; but you say that you came to serve God, and is it thus you serve Him?" Father Nieremberg says that some are called by God to be saved as Saints, and that if they do not take care to live as Saints, but thinking to be saved as imperfect Christians, they will not be saved at all. And St. Augustine says that such are, in most cases, abandoned by God: "God is accustomed to abandon negligent souls." And how does He abandon them? By permitting them from lighter faults, which they see and do not amend, to fall into grievous ones, lose divine grace and their Vocation. St. Teresa of Jesus saw the place prepared for her in hell, had she not detached herself from an earthly, though not a grievously sinful affection. He that contemneth small things shall fall by little and little.

Many wish to follow Jesus Christ as St. Peter did, who, when his Master was arrested in the garden, says St. Matthew, followed him afar off (Matt. xxvi. 58). But by doing so that will easily happen to them which happened to St. Peter, namely, when the occasion came, he denied Jesus Christ. A lukewarm Religious will be contented with the little he does for God; but God, Who called him to a perfect life, will not be contented, and, in punishment for his ingratitude, will not only deprive him of special favours, but will sometimes permit his fall. "When you say: 'It is enough,' you are lost," says Augustine. The fig-tree of the Gospel was cast into the fire, only because it brought forth no fruit.

O my God! reject me not, as I deserve, for I will amend my life. I know full well that a life negligent as mine cannot satisfy Thee. I know that I have, by my lukewarmness, shut the door of my heart against the graces which Thou didst desire to bestow upon me. O Lord! do not abandon me yet awhile; I will rise from my miserable state. I will for the future be more careful to overcome my passions, to follow Thy inspirations, and I will never through slothfulness omit my duties; I will perform them with greater diligence. In short, I will, from this time forward, do all I can to please Thee, and I will neglect nothing which I know to be pleasing to Thee.

II. Father Louis de Ponte said: "I have committed many faults, but I have never made peace with them." Miserable is the Religious who, being called to perfection, makes peace with his defects. As long as we detest our imperfections, there is hope that we may become Saints; but when we commit faults and make little of them, then, says St. Bernard, the hope of becoming Saints is lost. He who soweth sparingly shall also reap sparingly (2 Cor. ix. 6). Ordinary graces do not suffice to make one a Saint; extraordinary ones are necessary. But how shall God be liberal with His favours to one who acts sparingly and with reserve in his Love for Him?

Moreover, to become a Saint, one must have courage and strength to overcome all repugnances; and let no one ever believe, says St. Bernard, that he will be able to attain to perfection unless he distinguishes himself in the practice of virtue: "What is perfect, cannot but be singular." Reflect, my brother, for what have you left the world and all it can give? It was to become a Saint. But that lukewarm and imperfect life which you lead, is that the way of becoming a Saint? St. Teresa animated her daughters by saying to them: "My sisters, you have done the principal thing necessary to become Saints; the lesser remains yet to be done." The same I say to you; you have, perhaps, done the chief part already; you have left your country, your parents, and home, your property and your amusements, the lesser part now remains to be done to become a Saint. Do it.

Since Thou, O my Jesus! hast been so liberal with Thy graces towards me, and hast deigned to give Thy Blood and Thy life for me, why should I act with such reserve towards Thee? Thou art worthy of all honour and love, and to please Thee one ought gladly to undergo every labour, and suffer every pain. But, O my Redeemer, Thou knowest my weakness, help me by Thy powerful grace; in Thee I confide. O immaculate Virgin Mary, thou who hast helped me to leave the world, help me to overcome myself and to become a Saint.

Spiritual Reading


VIII. DETACHMENT (continued)

III. From Self-Esteem

He who enters Religion must be entirely detached from all self-esteem. There are many who leave their home, their comforts, their relations, but arrive bringing with them a certain esteem for themselves: such attachment would be the worst of all. Here is the greatest sacrifice we have to offer to God, namely the giving up, not only of our goods, our pleasures, our home, but of our own selves to Him. This is that denial of self which Jesus recommended more than anything else to His followers. And in order to deny himself, a man must tread under foot all self-esteem, by desiring and embracing every imaginable contempt that he may meet with in Religion; as, for instance, seeing others, whom perhaps he thinks less deserving, preferred to himself, or himself considered unfit to be employed, or only employed in lower or more laborious occupations. It must be understood that in the House of God those charges are the highest and the most honourable that are imposed by obedience. God forbid that any one should seek for or aspire to any office or charge of pre-eminence. This would be a strange thing in Religion, and would mark a Religious as proud and ambitious, and as such he should receive a penance, and be mortified especially on this very point. Better would it be, perhaps, that a Religious Order were destroyed than there should enter in that accursed pest of ambition which, when it enters, disfigures the most perfect Communities, and the most beautiful works of God.

On the contrary, he ought to feel interiorly consoled who sees himself made fun of and despised by his companions. I say interiorly consoled, for as to nature, this is not possible, nor need the Religious be uneasy at the resentment of his feelings, for it is enough that the spirit embraces such things, and that he rejoices in the superior part of the soul. Thus also when he sees himself continually reprimanded and mortified, not only by Superiors, but also by equals and inferiors, he ought heartily, and with a tranquil mind, to thank those who thus reprimand him, and have the charity to admonish him, answering that he will be more careful not to fall into that fault again.

One of the most ardent desires of the Saints in this world was to be despised for the love of Jesus Christ. It was this St. John of the Cross asked for, when Jesus Christ appeared to him with a Cross on His shoulder, and said: "John, ask from Me what thou wishest," and St. John answered: "O Lord, to suffer and to be despised for Thee." The Doctors of the Church teach, with St. Francis de Sales, that the highest degree of humility is to be pleased with objections and humiliations. And in this consists also our greatest merit before God. Some insult suffered in peace for the love of God is of greater value in His sight than a thousand disciplines and a thousand fasts.

We must know that occasions to suffer some slight, either from Superiors or from companions, are to be found even in the most holy Communities. Read the Lives of the Saints, and you will see how many mortifications fell to the lot of a St. Francis Regis, St. Francis of Jerome, Father Torres, and others. The Lord sometimes permits that even among Saints there should exist, without any fault of theirs, certain natural antipathies, or at least, a certain diversity of character among subjects of the greatest piety, which will cause them to suffer many contradictions. At other times things will be believed that are not true. God Himself will permit this in order that the subjects may have occasion to exercise themselves in patience and humility.

In short, he will gain little in Religion and lose much who cannot quietly put up with contempt and contradictions; and, therefore, he who enters Religion to give himself entirely to God should feel ashamed not to know how to bear contempt when he appears before Jesus Christ, Who was filled with opprobrium for love of us. Let each one be attentive to this, and resolve to take pleasure in abjections, and to prepare himself to suffer many in Religion, for without the least doubt he will have many to bear. Otherwise, the disquiet caused by contradictions and contempt badly endured would trouble him to such a degree as to bring him to lose his Vocation, and make him abandon the Religious life. Oh, how many have lost their Vocation on account of impatience in humiliations! But of what service to an Institute, or to God, can be he who does not know how to bear contempt for God's love? And how can one ever be said to be dead to himself, according to that promise which he made to Jesus Christ on entering Religion, if he remains still alive to resentment and disquiet, when he sees himself humbled? Away then with such subjects so full of self-esteem! Yes, far away! It is well that they go as soon as possible, lest they infect the rest with their pride. In Religion each one ought to be, as it were, dead, and especially to self-esteem, otherwise it were better for him not to enter, or to depart if he has already entered.

Evening Meditation


I. But unto you the sun of justice shall rise, and health in his wings (Mal. iv. 2).

Your Physician shall come, says the Prophet, to cure the infirm; and He will come swiftly like the bird that flies, and like the sun, which, on rising above the horizon, instantly sends its light to the other pole. But behold Him, He is already come. Let us console ourselves, and return thanks to Him.

St. Augustine says: "He descends even to the bed of the sick"; that is to say, even to taking our flesh, for our bodies are the beds of our infirm souls.

Physicians, if they love their patients, do indeed make every possible effort to cure them; but what physician, in order to cure the sick man, ever took upon himself his disease? Jesus Christ is truly that Physician, Who took on Himself our infirmities in order to cure them. Neither would He content Himself with sending another in His place, but He chose to come Himself to fulfil this charitable office in order to gain to Himself all our love.

Praised and blessed for ever be Thy Charity, O my Redeemer! And what would become of my soul, so infirm and afflicted with the many wounds of my sins, if I had not Thee, my Jesus, Who art both able and willing to heal me? O Blood of my Saviour, I trust in Thee! Wash me and heal me.

II. He hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows (Is. liii. 4). He was pleased to heal our wounds with His own Blood, and by His death deliver us from eternal death which we had deserved. In short, He chose to take the bitter medicine of a life of continual sufferings and a painful death to obtain life for us, and to deliver us from our many ills.

The chalice which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? (Jo. xviii. 11), He said to Peter. It was necessary then that Jesus Christ should embrace so many ignominies to heal our pride; that He should embrace such a life of poverty to cure our covetousness; that He should suffer a sea of torments, so as to die of pure agony to cure our eagerness for sensual pleasures.

O my Love, I repent of having offended Thee. Thou hast led a life of such tribulations and hast died such a bitter death to prove to me the love which Thou bearest me! I would fain show Thee also how much I love Thee, but what can I do -- I am so infirm, so miserable and so weak? O God of my soul Thou art Omnipotent; Thou canst cure me and make me holy. Oh, kindle in me a great desire of pleasing Thee. I renounce all my satisfactions to please Thee my Redeemer, Who dost deserve to be pleased at all cost. O Sovereign Good, I esteem Thee and love Thee above every good; make me love Thee with all my heart, and always implore Thy love. Hitherto I have offended Thee, and have not loved Thee, because I have not sought Thy love. I now beg this love of Thee, and the grace always to ask it of Thee. Hear me, by the merits of Thy Passion.

O Mary, my Mother, thou art always prepared to listen to him that prays to thee. Thou lovest him that loves thee. I love thee, my Queen. Obtain for me the grace to love God, and I ask for nothing more. Amen.
"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--Third Week of Advent

Morning Meditation


Consider how dear to God is a soul that gives itself entirely to Him.

The Son of God has already given Himself entirely to us. A Child is born to us, and a Son is given to us. He has given Himself to us through the love He bears us. When St. Teresa gave herself to Jesus the Lord said to her: "Now because thou art all Mine, I am all thine."

I. One is my dove, my perfect one (Cant. vi. 8). God loves all who love Him. I love them that love me (Prov. viii. 17). Many indeed give themselves to God, but still keep in their hearts some attachment to creatures which prevents them from belonging entirely to Him. How then will God give Himself to a soul that divides its love between Him and creatures? It is just He should act with reserve towards those who act with reserve towards Him. On the other hand, He gives Himself entirely to those souls who drive from their hearts everything that is not for God, and who can truly say: My God and my All!

St. Teresa, as long as she entertained an inordinate affection, though not an impure one, towards a certain person, could not hear from Jesus Christ what she afterwards heard, when, freeing herself from every attachment, she gave herself entirely to Divine Love, and God said to her: "Since now thou art all Mine, I am all thine!"

My beloved to me and I to him! (Cant. ii. 16). Since then, O my God, Thou has given Thyself entirely to me, I should be ungrateful, indeed, were I not to give myself entirely to Thee; since Thou wouldst have me belong wholly to Thee, behold, O my Lord, I give myself entirely to Thee. Accept me through Thy mercy and disdain me not. Grant, O Lord, that my heart, which once loved creatures, may turn now wholly to Thy infinite goodness. "Let me at last die," said St. Teresa, "and let another live in me. Let God live in me and give me life. Let Him reign, and let me be His slave, for my soul wishes no other liberty." My heart is too small, O God most worthy of love, and it is too little able to love Thee, Who art deserving of an infinite love. I should then be guilty of too great an injustice were I to divide it by loving anything besides Thee. I love Thee, my God, above everything. I love only Thee; I renounce all creatures, and give myself entirely to Thee, my Jesus, my Saviour, my Love, my All.

II. Consider that the Son of God has not hesitated to give Himself all to us. A Child is born to us, and a Son is given to us (Is. ix. 6). He has given Himself to us through the love He bears us. He hath loved us and hath delivered himself for us (Eph. v. 2). It is, then, just, says St. Chrysostom, that as God has given Himself to you without reserve -- "He has given thee all, nothing has He left for Himself" -- you should give yourself to God without reserve, and burning with divine love should henceforth sing to Him:

Thine wholly will I always be;
Thou has bestowed Thyself on me;
Myself I wholly give to Thee.

St. Teresa, appearing after her death, revealed to one of her nuns that God loves a soul that, as a spouse, gives herself entirely to Him, more than a thousand who are tepid and imperfect. The choir of Seraphim is completed from these generous souls belonging entirely to God. The Lord Himself says that He loves a soul that tends to perfection so much that He seems not to love any other: One is my dove, my perfect one is but one (Cant. vi. 8). Hence Blessed Giles exhorts us: "One for one -- una uni," by which he wishes to say that this one soul of ours we ought to give wholly, undivided, to that One Who alone deserves all love, on Whom depends all our good, and Who loves us more than all others love us. "Leave all and you shall find all," says Thomas a Kempis. Leave all for God and in God you will find all. "O soul!" concludes St. Bernard, "be alone, that you may keep yourself for Him alone." Keep yourself alone, give no part of your affections to creatures, that you may belong alone to Him Who alone deserves an infinite love, and Whom alone you ought to love.

What have I in heaven, and besides Thee, what do I desire on earth?... Thou art the God of my heart, and the God that is my portion forever (Ps. lxxii. 25). I desire nothing, either in this life or in the next, but to possess the treasure of Thy love. I am unwilling that creatures should any longer have a place in my heart; Thou alone must be its Master. To Thee alone shall it belong for the future. Thou only shalt be my God, my repose, my desire, all my love. "Give me only Thy love and Thy grace, and I am rich enough." O most holy Virgin Mary obtain for me that I may be faithful to God, and never recall the gift which I have made of myself to Him. Amen.

Spiritual Reading


IX. DETACHMENT (continued).

IV. From Self-Will.

He who enters Religion must absolutely give up his own will, and consecrate it without reserve to holy obedience. This condition is the most necessary of all. Of what use is it to leave comforts and relations and honours, and then bring into Religion one's own will? Renouncement of self consists especially in this: in dying spiritually and in giving one's self entirely to Jesus Christ.

The gift of the heart -- that is, of the will -- is what pleases Him most, and what He seeks from His sons and daughters in Religion. All our mortifications, all our meditations and prayers, and all other sacrifices, will be of little avail if there be not an entire detachment from and renouncement of self-will.

It is, then, evident that in this is the greatest merit before God. It is the only sure way of pleasing God in all things, because then each one can say what Jesus our Saviour said: I do always the things that please Him (Jo. viii. 29). He who in Religion lives without any will of his own may say and hope that in all he does, he pleases God; whether he studies or prays, or hears confessions; whether he goes to the refectory or to recreation, or to rest; for in Religion there is scarcely a step made, or a breath drawn, but in obedience to the Rule, or to Superiors.

The world does not understand, and even certain pious persons have little idea of, the great value of Community life under obedience. It is true that outside of Religious Communities there are found many persons who do much, and, may be, more than those who live under obedience -- they preach, do penance, pray and fast, but in all this they follow more or less their own will. God grant that at the Day of Judgment they may not have to lament as those mentioned in Scripture: Why have we fasted and Thou hast not regarded, have we humbled our souls and Thou hast not taken notice? Behold, in the day of your fast, your own will is found (Is. lviii. 3). On which passage St. Bernard remarks: "Self-will is a great evil, for through it that which is good in itself may be for you no good at all." This is to be understood when in all our exercises we seek not God, but ourselves. On the contrary, he who acts by obedience is sure that in all he does he pleases God. The Venerable Mother Mary of Jesus said that she valued exceedingly her Religious Vocation, principally for two reasons: the first was that in the monastery she enjoyed always the presence and company of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and the other, that there she belonged entirely to God, sacrificing her own will to Him by obedience.

It is related by Father Rodriguez that after the death of Dositheus, the disciple of St. Dorotheus, the Lord revealed that during the five years he had lived under obedience, though by reason of his infirmities he could not practise the austerities of the other monks, yet he had merited by virtue of obedience the reward of St. Paul the Hermit and of St. Anthony the Abbot.

He, then, who wishes to enter Religion, must resolve to renounce altogether his own will, and to will only what holy obedience wills. God preserve a Religious from ever letting escape from his lips the words "I will" or "I will not." But in all things, even when asked by Superiors what he desires, he should only answer: "I will that which holy obedience wills of me." And, provided there is no evident sin, he ought in every command imposed on him to obey blindly and without examination, because the duty of examining and deciding belongs not to him, but to his Superiors. Otherwise, even if in obeying, he does not submit his own judgment to that of the Superior, his obedience will be imperfect. St. Ignatius Loyola used to say that in matters of obedience prudence is not required in subjects, but in Superiors; and if prudence enters at all into obedience it is to obey without prudence. St. Bernard says: "Perfect obedience is indiscreet." And in another place: "For a prudent novice to remain in a Congregation is an impossible thing"; and he gives the reason, saying: "To judge belongs to the Superior, and to obey to the subject."

But to make progress in this virtue of obedience, on which all depends, he must always be ready to do all that for which he feels the greatest repugnance, and to be prepared to bear it peacefully when he sees that all he seeks or desires is refused him. It will happen that when he wishes for solitude, to apply himself to prayer or study, he will be the most employed in external labours. For though it is true that in Religion one leads as much as possible a solitary life when at home, and that for this end there are many hours of silence -- the Retreat each year of ten days, in perfect silence, and of one day each month, besides the fifteen days before the receiving of the habit, and one of fifteen before the Profession, when the Vows are made -- nevertheless, if it be an Institute of priests called to work and to be employed for the salvation of souls, the subject, if he is continually employed in this by obedience, ought to be content with the prayers and exercises of the community; he must be prepared sometimes to go even without these when obedience will have it so, without either excusing himself or being disquieted, being well persuaded of that of which St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi was so confident when she said that "all the things which are done through obedience are so many prayers."

Evening Meditation


I. I have given thee to be the light of the Gentiles that thou mayest be my salvation even to the farthest part of the earth (Is. xlix. 6).

Consider how the Eternal Father addressed these words to the Infant Jesus at the instant of His Conception: I have given thee to be the light of the Gentiles that thou mayst be my salvation. My Son, I have given Thee to the world for the Light and Life of all people, in order that Thou mayst procure for them their salvation, which I have as much at heart as if it were My own. Thou must, therefore, employ Thyself entirely for the well-being of men. "Wholly given to man Thou must be wholly spent in his service." (St. Bernard). Thou must therefore, at Thy birth, suffer extreme poverty in order that men may become rich: "that Thou mayst enrich them by Thy poverty." Thou must be sold as a slave to acquire liberty for man; and Thou must be scourged and crucified as a slave to satisfy My justice for the punishment due to man. Thou must give Thy Blood and Thy Life to deliver man from eternal death. In a word, Thou art no longer Thine own, but Thou belongest to man: A child is born to us, a son is given to us (Is. ix. 6). Thus, My beloved Son, man will be constrained to love Me, and to be Mine, when he sees that I give Thee, My only-begotten One, entirely to him, and that there is nothing left for Me to give him.

My dearest Jesus, if it is true (as the Law says) that dominion is acquired by gift, since Thy Father hath given Thee to me, Thou art mine; for me Thou wert born, to me Thou hast been given: A child is born to us, a Son is given to us. Therefore I may well say: "My Jesus and my all." Since Thou art mine, everything that belongs to Thee is also mine. Of this I am assured by Thy Apostle: How hath he not also with him given us all things (Rom. viii. 32). Thy Blood is mine, Thy merits are mine, Thy grace is mine, Thy Paradise is mine; and if Thou art mine who shall be able to take Thee from me? "No man can take God away from me," joyfully exclaimed the Abbot St. Anthony, and so, too, from this day forth, will I also continually say. It is only through my own fault that I can lose Thee and separate myself from Thee; but if in past times I have abandoned Thee and lost Thee, O my Jesus, I now repent of it with all my soul, and I am resolved to lose my life and everything sooner than lose Thee, O infinite Good, and only Love of my soul!

II. God so loved the world! O infinite love, only worthy of an Infinite God! God so loved the world as to give his only begotten son! (Jo. iii. 16). The Infant Jesus, far from being sorrowful at this proposal, is pleased at it, accepts it with love, and exults in it: He hath rejoiced as a giant to run the way (Ps. lviii. 6), and from the first moment of His Incarnation He gives Himself entirely to man, and embraces with pleasure all the sorrows and ignominy that He must suffer on earth for the love of man. These were, says St. Bernard, the mountains and hills that Jesus Christ had to pass with so many labours in order to save man: Behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping over the hills (Cant.ii. 8).

Here consider that the Divine Father, in sending His Son to be our Redeemer and Mediator between Himself and man, has in a certain sense bound Himself to forgive us and love us, on account of the Covenant He made to receive us into His favour, provided His Son satisfied His Divine justice for us. On the other hand, the Divine Word, having accepted the decree of His Father, Who, by sending Him to redeem us, has given Him to us, has also bound Himself to love us; not, indeed, for our own merits, but in order to fulfil the merciful will of His Father.

I thank Thee, Eternal Father, for having given me Thy Son; and since Thou hast given Him entirely to me, I, a miserable sinner, give myself entirely to Thee. For the sake of this same Son, accept me, and bind me with the chains of love to my dear Redeemer; but bind me so strongly that I also may be able to say: Who shall separate me from the love of Christ? (Rom. viii. 35). What good shall there ever be in the world that shall separate me from my Jesus? And Thou, my Saviour, if Thou art all mine, know that I am all Thine. Dispose of me, and of all that belongs to me, as shall best please Thee. And how can I refuse anything to a God Who has not refused me His Blood and His life? Mary, my Mother, do thou guard me with thy protection. I will no longer be my own. I will be all my Saviour's. Do thou help me to be faithful; I trust in thee.
"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
Thursday--Third Week of Advent

Morning Meditation


Consider that in order to become a Saint it is necessary to have a great desire of holiness.

No Saint has ever become a Saint without having a great desire for sanctity. As wings are necessary to fly so holy desires are necessary to the soul in order to advance in the way of perfection. My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready! Tell me what Thou desirest of me. I will obey Thee in all things.

I. Holy desires are necessary to the soul in order to advance in the way of perfection. To become a Saint we must detach ourselves from creatures, conquer our passions, overcome ourselves, and love crosses. But to do all this much strength is required and we must suffer much.

But what is the effect of this holy desire? St. Laurence Justinian answers: "It supplies strength, and makes the pain easier to be borne." Hence the same Saint adds that he has already vanquished who has a great desire to vanquish. "A great part of the victory is the desire of vanquishing." He who wishes to reach the top of a high mountain will never reach it if he has not a desire to do so. This will give him courage and strength to undergo the fatigue of ascending; otherwise he will halt at the foot, wearied and discouraged.

St. Bernard asserts that we acquire perfection in proportion to the desire for it which we preserve in our hearts. St. Teresa said that God loves generous souls that have great desires; for which reason the Saint exhorted all, saying: "Let our thoughts be high, for thence will come our good. We must not have weak desires, but have confidence in God by which we shall, little by little, attain that perfection to which, by God's grace, the Saints attained." It was thus the Saints gained, in a short time, a great degree of perfection, and were able to do great things for God: Being made perfect in a short space, he fulfilled a long time (Wis. iv. 13). St. Aloysius Gonzaga attained in a few years (he was only twenty-three when he died) such a degree of sanctity that St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi, beholding him in spirit in Heaven, said it seemed to her, in a certain way, that there was no Saint in Heaven who enjoyed greater glory than Aloysius. She understood at the same time that he had arrived at so high a degree by the great desire he had to love God as much as He deserved, and that, seeing this beyond his power, the holy youth had suffered on earth a martyrdom of love.

Behold, O my God! here I am. My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready (Ps. lvi. 8). See, I am prepared to do all that Thou shalt require of me. O Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? (Acts ix. 6). Tell me what Thou desirest of me. I will obey Thee in all things. I am sorry for having lost so much time in which I might have pleased Thee, and have not done so. I thank Thee that still Thou givest me time to do it. Oh, no, I will not lose any more time. I will and I desire to become a Saint, not to obtain from Thee greater glory and more delights. I desire it that I may love Thee more, and that I may please Thee in this life and in the next.

II. St. Bernard, when a Religious, was accustomed to say to himself in order to excite his fervour: Bernarde, ad quid venisti? -- "Bernard, for what hast thou come hither?" I say the same to you: What have you come to the House of God to do? Why have you left the world? To become a Saint? And what are you doing? Why do you lose time? Tell me -- do you desire to become a Saint? If you do not desire it, then, certainly, you will never become a Saint. If you have not this desire, ask Jesus Christ for it: ask Mary for it. And if you have it, take courage, says St. Bernard, for many there are who do not become Saints just because they are not courageous. And so, I repeat, let us take courage and great courage. Why should we fear? Why be cast down? Our Blessed Lord Who gave us strength to leave the world, will give us also the grace to embrace the life of a Saint. Everything comes to an end. Our life, be it a contented or a discontented one, will also come to an end, but eternity will never end. That little which we have done for God will alone console us at death and throughout eternity. The labour will be short, the crown, which is already in sight, will be immortal. How well pleased the Saints are now with all they have suffered for God! If sorrow could enter Paradise, the blessed would be sorry only that they neglected to do more for God than they had done, and now they are unable to do it. Courage, then, make haste, for there is no time to lose; what can be done today we may not be able to do tomorrow. St. Bernardine of Sienna used to say that one moment of time is of as great value as God Himself, for at each moment we may gain God, His divine grace, and higher degrees of merit.

Make me, O Lord, to love and please Thee as much as Thou desirest. Behold, this is all I ask from Thee, O my God! I will love Thee, I will love Thee; and, in order to love Thee, I offer myself to undergo every fatigue, and to suffer every pain. O my Lord, increase in me always this desire, and give me the grace to execute it. Of myself I can do nothing, but assisted by Thee I can do all things. Eternal Father, for the love of Jesus Christ graciously hear me. My Jesus, through the merits of Thy Passion, come to my succour. O Mary, my hope! for the love of Jesus Christ, protect me.

Spiritual Reading



When, then, a person has actually entered Religion, however genuine his Vocation may be, and though he may have conquered all his passions and his earthly affections, let him not imagine that he will be exempt from other temptations and trials, which God Himself will send him, such as tediousness, darkness, various fears, in order to establish him more firmly in his Vocation. We must remember that even the Saints, who loved their Vocation most, have sometimes suffered great darkness with regard to it, and that it seemed to them that they were deceived, and would not be able to save themselves in that state. So it happened with St. Teresa, St. John of the Cross, St. Jane Frances de Chantal. But by recommending themselves to God, that darkness was dissipated, and they recovered their peace of mind. Thus the Lord tests His most beloved children, as it was said to Tobias: Because thou wast acceptable to God, it was necessary that temptation should prove thee (Tob. xii. 13). And in the Book of Deuteronomy, The Lord, your God, trieth you, that it may appear whether you love him or not (Deut. xiii. 3). Let each one, therefore, prepare himself to suffer in Religion this obscurity. It will sometimes appear to him that he cannot bear the observance of the Order, that he will have no more peace of mind, or will not even be able to save himself. But, most of all, he must be on his guard when the temptation presents specious scruples or pretexts of greater spiritual good, in order to make him abandon his Vocation.

There are two principal remedies for such temptations:

First Remedy: To have Recourse to God.

Prayer is the first remedy: Come ye to him and be enlightened (Ps. xxxiii. 6). For, as it is not possible that temptation overcome one who has recourse to God by prayer, so he who does not recommend himself to God will surely be overcome. And let it be noted that sometimes it will not suffice to have recourse to God once, or for a few days, to be victorious. Perhaps the Lord will permit the temptation to continue, even after we have prayed for several weeks, months, and even years; but let us be assured that he who ceases not to recommend himself to God will certainly be enlightened and win the victory, and thereafter he will have more peace and be more firm in his Vocation.

Until we have passed through this storm, which for the most part comes to all, let no one of us think himself secure. Let us be persuaded, however, that in this time of temptation it is vain to expect to feel fervour, or a clearness of reason sufficient to tranquillise ourselves; for in the midst of the darkness we see nothing but confusion. At such a time we can only cry out: O Lord, help me! O Lord, help me! We should also have frequent recourse to Most Holy Mary, who is the Mother of perseverance. Let us confide in that divine promise: Ask and you shall receive. It is certain that he who, with the help of divine grace, is victorious in such a combat finds afterwards a double calm and peace in his Vocation.

Second Remedy: To have Recourse to the Superiors.

The second remedy, and a principal and necessary one in such temptations, is to communicate to the Superiors, or to the Spiritual Father, the temptation which afflicts you, and this at once, before the temptation becomes strong. St. Philip Neri says that a temptation thus manifested is half conquered. On the contrary, there is no greater mistake than to conceal the temptation; for then, on the one hand, God withdraws His light because of the little fidelity shown by the subject in not disclosing it to those who hold His place, and, on the other, whilst the mine is not sprung, the temptation gains strength. Hence, it may be held for certain that he who is thus unfaithful when tempted against his Vocation, will surely lose it.

And let it be understood that in Religion these temptations against Vocation are the most pernicious that hell can raise against a subject, for, should he give way, the devil, with one stroke, will have gained many victories; for when a subject has lost his Vocation and left Religion, what good will he be able to do in the service of God? The enemy, it is true, will make him believe that out of Religion he will enjoy greater peace and be able to do more good; nevertheless, let him hold for certain that as soon as he has left the House of God he will feel such remorse that he will nevermore enjoy peace of conscience. And God grant that such a remorse may not torment him for all eternity in hell, into which, as has already been said, he who through his own fault loses his Vocation, may so easily fall. He will be so lukewarm and discouraged in doing good that he will not even have the strength to raise his eyes to Heaven. In such a state he will easily give up prayer altogether, because as often as he begins it he will feel a hell of remorse, hearing his conscience reproach him and saying: "What hast thou done? Thou hast abandoned God; thou hast lost thy Vocation; and for what? To follow thine own caprice; to please thy parents." Let him be certain that he will have to feel this remorse through his whole life, and still more so at the hour of his death, when, in sight of eternity, instead of dying in the House of God, and in the midst of his Brethren in Religion, he will die out of Religion, perhaps in his own house, in the midst of his relatives, to please whom he has displeased God. A Religious should ever beseech God to let him die rather than permit so great a misfortune to befall him, the torments of which he will better understand at the point of death, because then there will be no remedy for the error. For him, then, who is tempted against his Vocation, the best Meditation he can make while it lasts, is to reflect what torment the remorse of having lost his Vocation, and of having to die out of Religion, through his own caprice, through his own fault, will cause him at the hour of his death.

Evening Meditation


I. A child is born to us and a son is given to us (Is. ix. 6).

Consider how, after so many centuries, after so many prayers and sighs, the Messias Whom the holy Patriarchs and Prophets were not worthy to see, for Whom the nations sighed, the desire of the eternal hills, our Saviour, is come! He is already born and has given Himself entirely to us. A child is born to us, and a son is given to us (Is. ix. 6).

The Son of God has made Himself little, in order to make us great; He has given Himself to us, in order that we may give ourselves to Him; He is come to show us His love, in order that we may respond to it by giving Him ours. Let us, therefore, receive Him with affection; let us love Him, and have recourse to Him in all our necessities.

"A child gives easily," says St. Bernard; children readily give anything that is asked of them. Jesus came into the world as a Child, in order to show Himself ready and willing to give us all good gifts: In whom are hid all treasures (Col. ii. 3). The Father hath given all things into his hands (Jo. iii. 35). If we wish for light, He is come on purpose to enlighten us. If we wish for strength to resist our enemies, He is come to give us comfort. If we wish for pardon and salvation, He is come to pardon and save us. If, in short, we desire the sovereign gift of Divine love, He is come to inflame our hearts with it; and, above all, for this very purpose, He has become a Child, and has chosen to show Himself to us worthy of our love, in proportion as He was poor and humble, in order to take away from us all fear, and to gain our affections. "Thus," says St. Peter Chrysologus "should He come Who willed to drive away fear, and seek for love."

O my amiable Jesus, Whom I have treated with so much contempt, Thou hast descended from Heaven to rescue us from hell, and to give Thyself entirely to us -- how can we, then, have so often despised Thee and turned our backs upon Thee? O God! men are so grateful to their fellow-creatures, that if anyone makes them a gift, if any one comes from a distance to pay them a visit, if anyone shows them a mark of affection, they cannot forget it, and feel themselves obliged to make him a return. And yet they are so ungrateful towards Thee, Who art their God, and so amiable, and Who for their love didst not refuse Thy Blood and Thy life. But, alas! I have behaved worse than others towards Thee, because more loved by Thee, and yet I have been more ungrateful towards Thee. Ah, if Thou hadst bestowed the graces given to me on a heretic, on an idolater, he would have become a Saint! And yet I have only offended Thee! O Jesus, mercy!

II. Jesus has, besides, chosen to become a little Child to make us love Him, not only with an appreciative but with a tender love. All infants attract the tender affections of those who behold them; but who will not, then, love with all tenderness a God Whom they behold as a little Child, in need of milk, trembling with cold, poor, abased and forsaken, weeping and wailing, and lying on straw in a manger? It was this that made the enamoured St. Francis exclaim: "Let us love the Child of Bethlehem! Let us love the Child of Bethlehem!" Come, ye souls, and love a God Who is become a Child and poor; Who is so amiable, and Who has come down from Heaven to give Himself entirely to you.

Forget, O Lord, I pray Thee, the injuries I have done Thee. But Thou hast already said that when a sinner repents, Thou forgettest all the outrages Thou hast received from him: All his iniquities I will not remember (Ezech. xviii. 22). If in times past I have not loved Thee, in future I will do nothing but love Thee, Thou hast given Thyself all to me, I will give Thee my entire will. With this will I love Thee, love Thee, love Thee; and I repeat it, I love Thee, I love Thee, I love Thee. While I live I will constantly say this; and thus shall I die, saying with my last breath those sweet words: "My God, I love Thee." And in the meantime, O my Lord, my only Good, my only Love, I intend to prefer Thy Will to every pleasure of my own. Let the whole world offer itself to me, I will refuse, for I will never cease to love Him Who has loved me so much. I will never again offend Him Who deserves from me an infinite love. Do Thou, O my Jesus, strengthen this my desire with Thy grace. Mary, my Queen, I acknowledge that all the graces that I have received from God are due to thy intercession. Cease not to intercede for me. Obtain for me perseverance, thou who art the Mother of 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
Friday--Third Week of Advent

Morning Meditation


Consider the love we owe to Jesus Christ in return for the love He has shown us.

In order to understand the love the Son of God has borne us it is enough to consider what St. Paul says of Jesus Christ: He emptied himself, taking the form of a servant ... he humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. O my Jesus, only too much, indeed, hast Thou obliged me to love Thee.

I. He emptied himself, taking the form of a servant. He emptied Himself! O God! what astonishment to the Angels, through all eternity, to see a God become Man for the love of man, and submit to all man's weaknesses and sufferings. And the Word was made flesh! What a marvel would it not be to see a king become a worm for the sake of worms! But it is an infinitely greater wonder to see a God become Man, and then humbled unto such a painful and ignominious death on the Cross upon which He ended His most sacred life.

Moses and Elias, on Mount Thabor, speaking of His death, as it is related in the Gospel, called it an "excess": They spoke of his decease (the Latin word is "excessus," which also means "excess") that he should accomplish in Jerusalem (Luke ix. 31). Yes, says St. Bonaventure, it is with reason the death of Jesus Christ was called an "excess," for it was an excess of suffering and of love -- Excessus doloris, excesses amoris. So much so that it would be impossible to believe it, if it had not already happened. It was truly an excess of love, adds St. Augustine, for to this end the Son of God wished to come on earth, to live a life so laborious and to die a death so bitter, namely, that He might make known to man how much He loved him. "Therefore Christ came, that man should know how much God loved him."

The Lord revealed to His servant Armella Nicolas that the love He bore to man was the cause of all His sufferings and of His death. If Jesus Christ had not been God, but only man and our Friend, what greater love could He have shown us than to die for us? Greater love than this, no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends (Jo. xv. 13). At the thought of the love shown us by Jesus Christ, how little the Saints esteemed it to give their lives and their all for so loving a God! How many youths, how many noblemen, have left their house, their country, their riches, their parents, and all things to retire into cloisters, to live only for the love of Jesus Christ! How many young virgins, renouncing nuptials with princes and the great ones of the world, have gone joyfully to death, thus to render some return for the love of a God Who had been executed on an infamous gibbet and died for their sake.

Indeed, O my Jesus, my Lord, and my Redeemer! only too much hast Thou obliged me to love Thee; too much has my love cost Thee. I should be too ungrateful if I should content myself to love with reserve a God Who has given me His Blood, His life, and His entire self. Oh, Thou Who hast died for me, Thy poor servant, it is but just that I should die for Thee, my God, and my All. Yes, O my Jesus! I detach myself from all, to give myself to Thee. I put away from me the love of all creatures in order to consecrate myself entirely to Thy love.

II.That Jesus Christ should die on the Cross for our sakes seemed to St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi to be "foolishness." Hence she said Jesus was foolish with love: "O my Jesus, Thou art foolish with love!" So, also, the Gentiles, as St. Paul attests, on hearing the death of Jesus Christ preached to them, considered it a folly that no one could believe. We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumbling-block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness (1 Cor. i. 23). How is it possible, they said, that a God Who is in Himself most happy and is dependant on none, should die for the love of man, His own servant?

This would be as much as to believe that God became a fool for the love of men. Nevertheless, it is of Faith that Jesus Christ, the true Son of God, did, for love of us, deliver Himself up to death. He hath loved us and hath delivered himself for us (Eph. v. 2). The same St. Mary Magdalen had reason then to exclaim, lamenting the ingratitude of men towards so loving a God: "O Love not known! O Love not loved!" Indeed, Jesus Christ is not loved by men, because they live in forgetfulness of His love.

And, in fact, a soul that considers a God Who died for her sake, cannot live without loving Him. The charity of Christ presseth us (2 Cor. v. 14). The soul will feel herself inflamed, and as if constrained to love a God Who has loved her so much. Jesus Christ could have saved us, says Father Nieremberg, with one single drop of His Blood; but it was His will to shed all His Blood, and to give His Divine Life, that at the sight of so many sufferings and of His death, we might not content ourselves with an ordinary love, but be sweetly constrained to love with all our strength a God so full of love towards us. That they also who live may not now live to themselves, but unto him who died for them (Ib. v. 15).

O my Jesus, I choose Thee alone out of all things for my Good, my Treasure, and my only Love. I love Thee, O my Love! I love Thee. Thou art not satisfied that I should love Thee only a little. Thou art not willing to have me love anything besides Thee. I will please Thee in all things and I will love Thee much. Thou shalt be my only Love. My God, my God, help me, that I may fully please Thee. Mary, my Queen, do thou also help me that I may have a great love for my God. Amen. So I hope; so may it be.

Spiritual Reading



Finally, let him who wishes to enter Religion resolve to become a Saint, and to suffer every exterior and interior pain in order to be faithful to God, and not to lose his Vocation. And if he be not thus resolved, I exhort him not to deceive the Superiors and himself, and not to enter at all, for this is a sign that he is not called, or, which is a still greater evil, that he has not the will to correspond as he ought, with the grace of his Vocation. Hence, with so bad a disposition, it is better to remain in the world, there to dispose himself better, so as to give himself entirely to God, and to suffer all for Him. Otherwise he will do an injury both to himself and to Religion, for he will leave for the least cause, and then, besides being discredited before the world, he will be guilty before God of a still further infidelity to his Vocation, and will lose all hope of being able to take a single step in the way of God. God alone knows into what other misfortunes and sins he may fall.

To sum up. What a beautiful sight to see in Religion souls wholly given to God, who live in the world as if out of the world, without any other thought than that of pleasing God.

In Religion each one has to live only for eternity. What happiness for us if we spend these few days of our life for God! And to this he is most especially obliged who has perhaps already spent much of his life in the service of the world. Let us set eternity before our eyes, and then we shall suffer everything in peace and joy.

Let us thank God Who gives us so much light and so many means to serve Him perfectly, since He has chosen us, from among so many, to serve Him in Religion -- having bestowed on us the gift of His holy love. Let us make haste to advance in virtue in order to please Him, reflecting that, perhaps, as St. Teresa said to her daughters, "we have already by His grace got over the chief difficulty in the way of becoming Saints when we turned our backs on the world and all its goods; that which is less difficult remains for us to do, and then we shall be Saints." I hold it for certain that for those who die in Religion, Jesus Christ has prepared a beautiful place in Paradise. In this world we shall be poor, despised, and looked upon as fools and imprudent persons, but in the next our lot will be far different.

Let us always recommend ourselves to our most loving Redeemer, hidden in the Blessed Sacrament, and to the Blessed Virgin, for Religious must profess a most special love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and for His Immaculate Mother Mary. Let us have great confidence. Jesus Christ has chosen us to be princes of His court, and all Religious Orders, and each member of them, are indeed objects of His special care. The Lord is my light and my salvation -- whom shall I fear? (Ps. xxvi. 1).

O Lord! perfect Thy work, and, for Thy glory, make us all Thine own, so that all the members of Thy Orders may, until the Day of Judgment, be pleasing to Thee, and gain for Thee a countless number of souls. Amen, Amen.

Evening Meditation


I. He was offered because it was his own will (Is. liii. 7).

The divine Word, from the first instant that He was made Man and an Infant in Mary's womb, offered Himself of His own accord to suffer and to die for the ransom of the world: He was offered because it was his own will (Is. liii. 7). He knew that all the sacrifices of goats and bulls offered to God in times past had not been able to satisfy for the sins of men, but that it required a divine Person to pay the price of their redemption; wherefore He said, as the Apostle tells us: When he cometh into the world he saith: Sacrifice and oblation thou wouldst not, but a body thou hast fitted to me ... Then said I: Behold, I come (Heb. x. 5). "My Father," said Jesus, "all the victims hitherto offered to Thee have not sufficed, nor could they suffice, to satisfy Thy justice; Thou hast given Me this passible body, in order that by shedding my Blood I might appease Thee and save men: Behold, I come -- here I am ready, I accept everything, and I submit myself in everything to Thy will."

My Lord, ever since I began to have the use of reason, I began to despise Thy grace and Thy love. Nevertheless Thou hast borne with me, because Thou still dost love me. I fled from Thee, and Thou dost follow me and call me. The very same love that made Thee come down from Heaven to seek the lost sheep, has caused Thee to bear with me, and not to forsake me. My Jesus, Thou seekest me now, and I seek Thee. I feel that Thy grace is assisting me: it assists me by giving me sorrow for my sins, which I abhor above every other evil; it assists me by making me feel a great desire to love Thee and to please Thee. Yes, my Lord, I will love Thee and please Thee as much as I can. On the one hand I feel afraid, it is true, at the thought of my frailty and the weakness which I have contracted by my sins; but greater is the confidence which Thy grace gives me, making me hope in Thy merits; so that I say, with great courage: I can do all things in him who strengtheneth me (Phil. iv. 13). If I am weak Thou wilt give me strength against my enemies: if I am infirm, I hope that Thy Blood will be my medicine; if I am a sinner, I hope Thou wilt make me holy. I know that I have hitherto contributed to my own ruin, because I have neglected, in times of danger, to have recourse to Thee. But from this day forth, my Jesus and my Hope, I will always have recourse to Thee; and from Thee I hope for every assistance and every good.

II. In Jesus the inferior part felt repugnance towards a life of suffering and a death so full of pain and shame; but the rational part, which was entirely subordinate to the will of His Father, conquered and accepted everything; and Jesus began from the Incarnation to suffer all the anguish and sorrows that He would have to suffer all the years of His life. Thus did our Redeemer act from the very first moment of His entrance into the world. But, O God, how have we conducted ourselves towards Jesus since we began as adults to know by the light of Faith the Sacred Mysteries of Redemption? What thoughts, what designs, what goods have we loved? Pleasures, amusements, vanities, resentments, sensuality -- these are the things that have engrossed the affections of our hearts. But if we have Faith, we must now at last change our lives and change our affections. Let us love a God Who has suffered so much for us. Let us place before ourselves the sufferings which the Heart of Jesus endured for us, even from His Infancy; for then we shall not be able to love anything else but this Heart which has loved us so much.

O my Jesus, now I love Thee above all things, and I will love none but Thee. In pity help me, through the merit of all those sufferings which from Thy infancy Thou hast endured for me. Eternal Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ accept my love. If I have provoked Thee let the tears of the Infant Jesus, Who is praying for me, appease Thy wrath: Look on the face of thy Christ (Ps. lxxxiii. 10). I do not deserve favours, but this Thy innocent Son deserves them, and offers Thee a life of sufferings, in order that Thou mayst be merciful to me. And thou, O Mother of mercy, Mary, cease not to intercede for me. Thou knowest how much I confide in thee; and I well know that thou dost not forsake him that has recourse to thee.
"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--Third Week of Advent

Morning Meditation


Consider how much Religious ought to confide in the patronage of Mary.

I. The divine Mother loves all men. How much, then, does not this great Queen love Religious who have consecrated their liberty, their life, and their all to the love of Jesus Christ, her Son? My happiness on this earth, O Mary, shall be to serve, bless and to love thee.

If it be true, and most true, indeed, it is, that, as St. Peter Damian teaches, the divine Mother, most holy Mary, loves all men with such an affection that, after God; there is not, nor can there be, any one who surpasses or equals her in her love: "She loves us with an invincible love": how much must we think this great Queen loves Religious, who have consecrated their liberty, their life, and their all to the love of Jesus Christ? She well sees that the life of Religious is more conformable to her own life, and to that of her divine Son; she sees them often occupied in praising her, and continually attentive to honour her by their Novenas, Visits, Rosaries, Fasts, etc. She beholds them often at her feet, intent on invoking her aid, asking graces of her, and graces all conformed to her holy desires; that is, the grace of perseverance in the divine service, of strength in their temptations, of detachment from this world, and of love of God. Ah, how can we doubt that she employs all her power and mercy for the benefit of Religious, and especially of those who belong to this holy Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, in which, as it is well known, we make a special profession of honouring the Virgin Mother by Visits, by mortifications on Saturdays and during her Novenas, etc. and by everywhere promoting devotion to her by sermons and Novenas!

I thank thee, O Mary, my advocate, for to thee do I owe this great mercy that I am consecrated to Jesus Christ in Religion. Help me that I may not be ungrateful to that God Who has loved me so much. Let me die rather than prove myself unfaithful to His holy grace. O Mary, I consign my soul to thee; thou hast to save it. I love thee, O my Queen, and I hope always to love thee. Behold, I place all my confidence in thy clemency; do not cease to assist me in all my wants. Thou art my hope, O Mary; I look for all things through thy powerful intercession.


She, the great Mistress is grateful: I love those who love me (Prov. viii. 17). Yes, she is so grateful that, as St. Andrew of Crete says, "To him who does her the the least service she is accustomed to return great favours." To those who love her, and who promote her honour among others, she graciously promises to save them from sin: Those that work by me shall not sin. She also promises them Paradise: Those that explain me shall have life everlasting (Office of the B. V. Mary).

For which reason we especially ought to thank God for having called us to this Congregation, where, by the usages of the Community and the example of our companions, we are often reminded, and in some way constrained, to have recourse to Mary, and continually to honour this, our most blessed Mother, who is called, and is, the joy, the hope, the life, and the salvation of those who invoke and honour her.

My most beloved, most lovely, amiable, and most loving Queen, I thank my Lord and thee, and will always thank thee, who hast not only drawn me out of the world, but also called me to live in this Congregation, in which a special devotion to thee is practised. Accept of me, then, my Mother, to serve thee. Among so many of thy beloved children, disdain not to let me serve thee also, miserable though I be. Thou after God shall always be my hope and my love. In all my wants, in all my tribulations and temptations I will have recourse to thee; thou shalt be my refuge and my consolation. I will not that any one except God and thee should comfort me in my combats, in the sadness and the tediousness of this life. For thy service I renounce the kingdoms of the whole world! My kingdom on earth shall be to serve, bless, and love thee, O my most lovely Mistress, "whom to serve is to reign" as St. Anselm says. Thou art the Mother of perseverance; obtain for me to be faithful unto death. By so doing I hope, and firmly hope, one day to come where thou reignest, to praise and bless thee forever, and never more to depart from thy feet. "Jesus and Mary," I will say with thy loving servant, Alphonsus Rodriguez, "my sweetest Loves, let me suffer for You, let me die for You, let me be all Yours, and in nothing my own."

Spiritual Reading


My beloved reader and brother in Mary: Since the devotion that led me to write, and moves you to read what I write, makes us happy children of the same good Mother, should you hear it remarked that I might have spared myself the labour, as there are already so many celebrated and learned books on the same subject, I beg that you will reply that "the praise of Mary is an inexhaustible fount. The more it is enlarged the fuller it gets, and the more you fill it so much the more is it enlarged." In short, the Blessed Virgin is so great and so sublime, that the more she is praised the more there remains to praise; so much so, says an ancient writer, "that if all the tongues of men were put together, and even if each of their members were changed into a tongue, they would not suffice to praise her as much as she deserves."

Worldly lovers often speak of those whom they love, and praise them in order that the object of their affections may be praised and extolled by others. There are some who pretend to be lovers of Mary, and yet seldom either speak of her or endeavour to excite others to love her; their love cannot be great. It is not thus that true lovers of this amiable Lady act; they desire to praise her on all occasions, and to see her loved by the whole world, and never lose an opportunity, either in public or in private, of enkindling in the hearts of others those blessed flames of love with which they themselves burn towards their beloved Queen.

That every one may be persuaded how important it is, both for his own good and that of others, to promote devotion towards Mary, it is useful to know what Theologians say on the subject.

St. Bonaventure says that those who make a point of announcing to others the glories of Mary, are certain of Heaven; and this opinion is confirmed by Richard of St. Laurence, who declares, "that to honour this Queen of Angels is to gain eternal life"; and he adds, "that this most gracious Lady will honour in the next world those who honour her in this." And who is ignorant of the promise made by Mary herself, in the words of Ecclesiasticus, to those who endeavour to make her known and loved here below: they that explain me shall have life-everlasting; for this passage is applied to her by the Church, in the Office of the Immaculate Conception. "Rejoice, then," exclaims St. Bonaventure (who did so much to make the glories of Mary known), "rejoice, my soul, and be glad in her; for many good things are prepared for those who praise her." And he says that the whole of the Sacred Scriptures speak in praise of Mary: let us therefore always with our hearts and tongues honour this divine Mother, in order that we may be conducted by her into the kingdom of the Blessed.

We learn from the Revelations of St. Bridget, that the Blessed Bishop Emingo was in the habit of always beginning his sermons with the praises of Mary. One day the Blessed Virgin herself appeared to the Saint, and desired her to tell him that in consequence of his pious practice, "she would be his Mother, that he would die a holy death, and that she would herself present his soul to God." He died like a Saint in the act of praying, and in the most heavenly peace. Mary also appeared to a Dominican friar, who always concluded his sermons by speaking of her; when on his death bed, the Blessed Virgin defended him from devils, consoled him, and then she herself carried off his happy soul. The devout Thomas a Kempis, represents to us Mary recommending a soul who had honoured her to her Son, saying: "My most loving Son, have mercy on the soul of this servant of Thine, who loved and extolled me."

Next, as to the advantage of this devotion for all, St. Anselm says, that as the most sacred womb of Mary was the means of salvation for sinners, the hearing of her praises must necessarily convert them, and thus be also a means of their salvation. "How can it be otherwise than that the salvation of sinners should come from the remembrance of her praises, whose womb was made the way through which the Saviour came to save sinners?" And if the opinion is true, and I consider it as indubitably so, that all graces are dispensed by Mary, and that all who are saved are saved only by means of this divine Mother, it is a necessary consequence that the salvation of all depends upon preaching Mary, and exciting all to confidence in her intercession.*

I find that Father Paul Segneri, the Younger, who was a very celebrated missioner, in every Mission preached a sermon on devotion to Mary, and always called it his beloved sermon. And in our own Missions, in which it is an inviolable rule to do the same, we can attest, with all truth, that in most cases no sermon is more profitable, or produces so much compunction in the hearts of the people, as the one on the Mercy of Mary. I say, on her Mercy, for, in the words of St. Bernard: "we praise her Virginity, we admire her Humility; but because we are poor sinners, Mercy attracts us more and tastes sweeter; we embrace it more lovingly; we remember it oftener, and invoke it more earnestly." Devout reader, should what I write on the Blessed Virgin prove acceptable to you, as I trust it will, I beg that you will recommend me to Mary, that she may give me great confidence in her protection. Ask this grace for me; and I promise you, whoever you may be, that I will ask the same for you who do me this charity. O, blessed are they who bind themselves with love and confidence to those two anchors of salvation, Jesus and Mary. Certainly they will not be lost. Let us then say with the pious Alphonsus Rodriguez: "Jesus and Mary, my sweetest Loves, for You may I suffer, for You may I die; grant that I may be in all things Yours and in nothing mine own." Let us love Jesus and Mary and become Saints; we can neither expect nor hope anything better.

*There has recently been granted by the Holy Church a Feast under the title of "The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces." -- EDITOR.

Evening Meditation


I. I am become as a man without help, free among the dead (Ps. lxxxvii. 5, 6).

Consider the painful life that Jesus led in the womb of His Mother, and the long, close and dark imprisonment that He suffered there for nine months. Other infants are, indeed, in the same state, but they do not feel the miseries of it because they do not know them. But Jesus knew them well, because from the first moment of His life He had the perfect use of His reason, He had His senses, but He could not use them; eyes, but He could not see; a tongue, but He could not speak; hands, but He could not stretch them out; feet, but He could not walk -- so that for nine months He had to remain in the womb of Mary like a dead man shut up in the tomb: I am become as a man without help, free among the dead (Ps. lxxxvii. 5, 6). He was free, because He had of His own free-will made Himself a Prisoner of love in this prison; but love deprived Him of liberty, and bound Him there so fast in chains that He could not move: Free among the dead! "Oh great patience of our Saviour!" says St. Ambrose, while he considered the sufferings of Jesus in the womb of Mary.

Forget not the kindness of thy surety (Ecclus. xxix. 19). Yes, my Jesus, the Prophet has reason to warn me not to forget the immense favour in that Thou the innocent One, Thou, O my God! hast chosen to satisfy for my sins by Thy sufferings and Thy death. But after all this kindness I have forgotten Thy favours and Thy love, and I have had the boldness to turn my back upon Thee, as if Thou hadst not been my Lord, and the Lord Who has loved me so much. But if in times past I have forgotten Thy mercies, O my dear Redeemer! I will in future never forget them again. Thy sufferings and death shall be the constant subjects of my thoughts, because they will always recall to my mind the love that Thou hast borne me. Cursed be the days in which, forgetting what Thou hast suffered for me, I have made so bad a use of my liberty. Thou hast given it to me to love Thee, and I have used it to despise Thee. But I now consecrate entirely to Thee this liberty which Thou hast given me.

II. The womb of Mary was, therefore, to our Redeemer, a voluntary prison, because it was a prison of love. But it was also not an unjust prison: He was, indeed, innocent Himself, but He had offered Himself to pay our debts and to satisfy for our crimes. It was, therefore, only reasonable for the divine justice to keep Him thus imprisoned, and so begin to exact from Him the satisfaction due.

Behold the state to which the Son of God reduces Himself for the love of men! He deprives Himself of His liberty and puts Himself in chains to deliver us from the chains of hell. What gratitude and love should we not show in return for the love and goodness of our deliverer and our surety, Who, not by compulsion, but only out of love, offered Himself to pay, and has paid for us, our debts and our penalties by giving up His divine life! Forget not the kindness of thy surety; for he hath given his life for thee (Ecclus. xxix. 19).

I beseech Thee, my Saviour, deliver me from the misery of seeing myself again separated from Thee, and again made the slave of Lucifer. I implore Thee to bind my poor soul to Thy feet by Thy holy love, so that it may never again be separated from Thee. Eternal Father, by the imprisonment of the Infant Jesus in the womb of Mary, deliver me from the chains of sin and hell. And thou, O Mother of God, help me! Thou hast in thy womb the Son of God imprisoned and confined; as, therefore, Jesus is thy Prisoner, He will do everything that thou tellest Him. Tell Him to pardon me; tell Him to make me holy. Help me, my Mother, for the sake of the favour and honour Jesus Christ conferred upon thee by dwelling within thee for nine months.
"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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