Quotes Guiding SOCA

 

Take my advice, do not be afraid to aim as high as you possibly can, and you will

be astonished at the results. Let me explain: do not merely have, as your ideal, to give the

youth a selection of clean amusements that will turn them aside from illicit pleasures and

dangerous associations, nor simply to give them a Christian varnish, through routine

attendance at Mass, or the reception of the Sacraments at long intervals and with

questionable dispositions.

“Launch out into the deep.21′ Let your ambition be, first of all, the noble one of

making a certain number of them, at any cost, take the firm resolution of living as fervent

Christians; that is, of making their mental prayer every morning, going to Mass every

day, if they can, and doing a little spiritual reading, besides going frequently to

Communion, and fervently too. Put all your efforts into giving this select group a great

love for Jesus Christ, the spirit of self-denial, prayer, vigilance over themselves; in a

word, solid virtues. And take no less trouble to develop in their souls a hunger for the

Holy Eucharist. And then stir up these young men to act upon their com-panions. Train

them as frank, devoted apostles, kind, ardent, manly, not narrow-minded in their piety,

full of tact, and never making the sad mistake of spying on their comrades under pretext

of zeal. Before two years have gone by, come and tell me whether you still need a lot of

brass or stage sets to catch your fish.”

“Shall I open the doors to all comers right from the start?” I asked him.

“Numbers will be no use to you unless everyone is handpicked. Let the growth of

your club depend, most of all, on the influence exercised by the nucleus of apostles, the

center of which will be Jesus and Mary, with you as their instrument.”

if you

know how to build your club on the foundation of an ardent, complete, and apostolic

Christian life, the barest minimum, in the way of premises, will always be enough to

accommodate all the accessories demanded by the normal functioning of the club. Don’t

worry! You will soon find out that noise does not do much good — and that what is good

doesn’t make much noise. And you will see that a good clear understanding of the Gospel

will cut down your expenses and, far from hurting your success, it will promote it! But

above all, you will have to pay the price yourself, not so much by wearing yourself out

rehearsing plays or setting up football games, as by storing up in yourself the life of

prayer. For you can be sure that the extent to which you yourself are able to live on the

love of Our Lord will be the exact measure of your ability to stir it up in other people.”

“What it all comes to, then, is that you base everything on the inner life.”

“Yes, absolutely. That way, you don’t merely get an alloy, but pure gold. Besides,

speaking from long experience, I know you can apply what I have just said about youth-

clubs to any kind of work — parishes, seminaries, catechism classes, schools, soldiers’

and sailors’ groups, and so on. How much good a Christian society, really living on the

supernatural level, can do in a city! It works there like a strong leaven, and only the

angels can tell you how many souls are saved because of it.”

 

Ch 4

The apostolate implies souls capable of being carried away with enthusiasm for an

idea, of consecrating themselves to the triumph of a principle. When the realization of

this ideal is supernaturalized by the interior spirit, and when our zeal, in its end, its center,

and its means is quickened by the spirit of Christ, we shall have the life which is in itself

the most perfect of all, the highest possible life, since the theologians prefer it even to

simple contemplation: praefertur simplici contemplatione.3″

The apostolate of a man of prayer is the word of the Gospel, conquering with the

mandate of God; it is the zeal for souls, the ripening of conversions for the harvest: miss

in a Deo, zelus animarum, fructi-ficatio attditorum:38

It is a vapor rising from faith, breathing forth health-giving exhalations: zelus, id est

vapor fidei.54

The apostolate of the saints sows seed all over the world. The apostle casts into souls

the wheat of God.3” It is a blazing fire of love that devours the earth, the great fire of

Pentecost, spreading unchecked across the nations of the world. “I am come to cast fire

on the earth.” ™

The sublimity of this ministry lies in the fact that it provides for the salvation of

others, without danger to the apostle himself: sublimatur ad hoc ut aliis provident. To

transmit divine truths to the intellects of men! Is not this ministry worthy of angels?

It is a good thing to contemplate the truth, and better still to pass it on to others. To

reflect the light is something more than simply to receive it. It is better to give light, than

to shine under a bushel. By contemplation the soul is fed: by the apostolate, it gives itself

away. Sicut ma jus est illuminare quam lucere solum, ita majus est contcmplata aliis

tradere quamsolum contemplare.”1

Contemplata aliis tradere: prayer remains at the source of this ideal of the apostolate.

Such is the unmistaking meaning of St. Thomas.

This passage, like the words of the holy doctor that were quoted at the end of the

preceding chapter, are an open condemnation of so-called “Americanism,” the partisans

of which envisage a mixed life in which contemplation is strangled by activity.

Two things are implied by this text. 1. That the soul is already habitually living a life

of prayer, and doing so with sufficient intensity not to need to draw upon anything but its

surplus, for others. 2. That action must not supersede the life of prayer, and that the soul,

while spending itself, must be so well trained in keeping watch over its heart that it runs

no risk of withdrawing its actions from the influence of Christ. The beautiful words of Fr. Matheo, apostle of the enthroning of the Sacred Heart in

the home, exactly express the thought of St. Thomas in their own way: “The apostle is a

chalice full to the brim with the life of Jesus, and his overflow pours itself out upon

souls,”

Now it is a consequence of the economy of the divine plan that God owes it to

Himself to provide his chosen apostle with graces necessary to make distracting business

compatible not only with the assurance of salvation but even with the acquisition of

virtues which can lead as high as sanctity itself.

God owes the kind of help He gave to His St. Bernards and St. Francis Xaviers to the

humblest of his preachers of the Gospel, to the lowest teaching brother, to the most obscure nursing sister, in the measure required by each of them. Such aid is a real Debt of

the Sacred Heart, owed by Him to His chosen instruments. Let us not fear to repeat it

over and over again. *****And every apostle, provided he fulfills the due conditions, should

have an absolute confidence in his inviolable right to the graces demanded by a work

whose very nature gives him a mortgage on the infinite treasure of divine aid.****

Of course, in certain cases, where there is a grave and proximate danger of formal

sin, particularly against faith and the angelic virtue, God absolutely wills that a man give

up works of charity. But apart from such a case, He gives to all His workers, the interior

life as a means of becoming immune to danger and of making progress in virtue.

However, let us clearly define in what this progress consists. A paradox of the prudent

and spiritual St. Theresa will help us to make our meaning clear: “Since I have been

prioress, burdened with many duties and obliged to travel a great deal, I commit very

many more faults. And yet, as I struggle generously and spend myself for God alone, I

feel that I am getting closer and closer to Him.” Her weakness shows itself much more

than it did in the peace and quiet of the cloister. The saint is aware of this, but does not let

it cause her any worry. The completely supernatural generosity of her devotion to duty

and her greatly increased efforts in the spiritual combat make up for everything by

providing an opportunity for victories which largely outweigh the surprise faults of a

weakness that was always there, but formerly only in a latent state. Our union with God,

says St. John of the Cross, resides in the union of our will with His, and is measured

entirely by that union. Instead of taking the mistaken view of spirituality which would see

no possibility of progress in divine union except in tranquility and solitude, St. Theresa

judges that it is rather an activity truly imposed on us by God and carried out under the

conditions laid down by His will, which, by nourishing her spirit of sacrifice, her

humility, her abnegation, her ardor and devotion for the Kingdom of God, serves to

increase the intimate union of her soul with Our Lord, who lives in her and gives life to

her work; and it is thus that she advances on the road to sanctity.

 

 

 

Now for a man in the active life to give up his meditation is tantamount to throwing

down his arms at the feet of the enemy. “Short of a miracle,” says St. Alphonsus, “a man

who does not practice mental prayer will end up in mortal sin.” And St. Vincent de Paul

tells us: “A man without mental prayer is not good for anything; he cannot even renounce

the slightest thing. “It is merely the life of an animal.’” Some authors quote St. Theresa as

having said: “Without mental prayer a person soon becomes either a brute or a devil. If

you do not practice mental prayer, you don’t need any devil to throw you into hell, you

throw yourself in there of your own accord. On the contrary, give me the greatest of all

sinners; if he practices mental prayer, be it only for fifteen minutes every day, he will be

converted. If he perseveres in it, his eternal salvation is assured.”

 

Active Works Must Begin and End in the Interior Life, and, in It, Find Their

Means

Of course, we speak only of active works that are worthy of the name of “works.” In

our day, there are not a few that do not deserve this title at all. They are a species of

enterprise, organized under a pious front, but with the real aim of acquiring, for their

initiators, the applause of the public, and a reputation for an extraordinary ability. And

these men are determined to achieve the success of such enterprises at any cost, even that

of using the least justifiable of means.

Other works there are which, it is true, deserve a little more respect. Their intention,

at least, is good. Their end and their means are beyond reproach. And yet, because their

organizers have little more than a wavering faith in the power of the supernatural life to

act upon souls, their results, in spite of great efforts, are either totally, or at any rate

almost totally, futile.

To give a precise idea of what a good work ought to be, let us quote a man whose

apostolic work is the pride of his district, and recall the lessons he gave to us at the

beginning of our priestly ministry. We were interested in the formation of a club for young men. Having visited the Catholic clubs of Paris and a few other French cities, the

work going on at Val-des-Bois, and so on, we went to Marseilles to study the work done

for Catholic youth by the saintly Father Allemand and the venerable Canon Timon-

David. We rejoice to recall the emotions in our hearts (as a young priest) on hearing the

latter speak as follows: “Bands, theatricals, lantern-lectures, movies — I do not condemn

all that. When I started out, I too thought no one could do without them. And yet they are

nothing but crutches, to be used when there is no alternative left. However, the further I

advance, the more my end and my means become supernatural because I see more and

more clearly that every work built upon a merely human foundation is bound to collapse,

and that only the work that aims at bringing men closer to God by the interior life is

blessed by Providence.”

“Our band-instruments have been relegated to the attic for a long time, and our stage

has become useless, and yet the work is going on better than ever before. Why? Because,

thanks be to God, my priests and I see much clearer and straighter than before, and our

faith in the action of Christ and of grace has increased a hundred percent.”

“Take my advice, do not be afraid to aim as high as you possibly can, and you will

be astonished at the results. Let me explain: do not merely have, as your ideal, to give the

youth a selection of clean amusements that will turn them aside from illicit pleasures and

dangerous associations, nor simply to give them a Christian varnish, through routine

attendance at Mass, or the reception of the Sacraments at long intervals and with

questionable dispositions.

“Launch out into the deep.21′ Let your ambition be, first of all, the noble one of

making a certain number of them, at any cost, take the firm resolution of living as fervent

Christians; that is, of making their mental prayer every morning, going to Mass every

day, if they can, and doing a little spiritual reading, besides going frequently to

Communion, and fervently too. Put all your efforts into giving this select group a great

love for Jesus Christ, the spirit of self-denial, prayer, vigilance over themselves; in a

word, solid virtues. And take no less trouble to develop in their souls a hunger for the

Holy Eucharist. And then stir up these young men to act upon their com-panions. Train

them as frank, devoted apostles, kind, ardent, manly, not narrow-minded in their piety,

full of tact, and never making the sad mistake of spying on their comrades under pretext

of zeal. Before two years have gone by, come and tell me whether you still need a lot of

brass or stage sets to catch your fish.”

“I understand,” I replied, “this minority will be the leaven. But what about the others

that you will never be able to bring up to that level — what about the group as a whole,

the youths of all ages and even the married men who will join the club we are planning:

what are we going to do with them?”

“You are going to build up a strong faith in them, by a series of well prepared talks,

which will take up many of their winter evenings. Your Christians will go out, after these

talks, well enough armed not only to give complete and effective answers to their fellows

in the various plants and offices, but also to resist the more treacherous action of

newspapers and books. If you can give men unshakable convictions which they will

know how to affirm if they have to, without regard to human respect, you will (already)

have achieved a result that is not to be despised. But still, you will have to take them

further yet, and give them piety, genuine and ardent piety, based on conviction and full of

understanding.” “Shall I open the doors to all comers right from the start?” I asked him.

“Numbers will be no use to you unless everyone is handpicked. Let the growth of

your club depend, most of all, on the influence exercised by the nucleus of apostles, the

center of which will be Jesus and Mary, with you as their instrument.”

 

 

The premises won’t be very impressive. Should I wait until we can raise the money

for something better?”

“Well, when someone is starting out, spacious, comfortable rooms may serve as a

big drum to advertise your new enterprise, and draw attention to it. But, I repeat, if you

know how to build your club on the foundation of an ardent, complete, and apostolic

Christian life, the barest minimum, in the way of premises, will always be enough to

accommodate all the accessories demanded by the normal functioning of the club. Don’t

worry! You will soon find out that noise does not do much good — and that what is good

doesn’t make much noise. And you will see that a good clear understanding of the Gospel

will cut down your expenses and, far from hurting your success, it will promote it! But

above all, you will have to pay the price yourself, not so much by wearing yourself out

rehearsing plays or setting up football games, as by storing up in yourself the life of

prayer. For you can be sure that the extent to which you yourself are able to live on the

love of Our Lord will be the exact measure of your ability to stir it up in other people.”

“What it all comes to, then, is that you base everything on the inner life.”

“Yes, absolutely. That way, you don’t merely get an alloy, but pure gold. Besides,

speaking from long experience, I know you can apply what I have just said about youth-

clubs to any kind of work — parishes, seminaries, catechism classes, schools, soldiers’

and sailors’ groups, and so on. How much good a Christian society, really living on the

supernatural level, can do in a city! It works there like a strong leaven, and only the

angels can tell you how many souls are saved because of it.”

“Ah,” he concluded, “if only the majority of priests and religious and workers in

Catholic action knew what a powerful lever they have in their hands, once that lever takes

advantage of the Heart of Jesus as a fulcrum. Living in union with that Divine Heart they

would soon transform our country! Yes indeed, they would bring our land to life, in spite

of all the efforts of Satan and his slaves.” 21

 

 

1 Kings (1 Samuel)

18:1 And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking to Saul, the son of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.

18:2 And Saul took him that day, and would not let him return to his father’s house.

18:3 And David and Jonathan made a covenant, for he loved him as his own soul.

18:4 And Jonathan stripped himself of the coat with which he was clothed, and gave it to David, and the rest of his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.

 

 

Proverbs

 

24:27 Prepare thy work without, and diligently till thy ground: that afterward thou mayst build thy house.

 

25:15 By patience a prince shall be appeased, and a soft tongue shall break hardness.

 

25: 27 It is not good to eat much honey, so be sparing of complimentary words.

 

 

26:4 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou be made like him.

 

 

Sirach:

 

2:1 Son, when thou comest to the service of God, stand in justice and in fear, and prepare thy soul for temptation.

2:2 Humble thy heart, and endure: incline thy ear, and receive the words of understanding: and make not haste in the time of clouds.

2:3 Wait on God with patience: join thyself to God, and endure, that thy life may be increased in the latter end.

2:4 Take all that shall be brought upon thee: and in thy sorrow endure, and in thy humiliation keep patience.

2:5 For gold and silver are tried in the fire, but acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation.

 

 

6:6 Be in peace with many, but let one of a thousand be thy counsellor.

6:7 If thou wouldst get a friend, try him before thou takest him, and do not credit him easily.

 

6:13 Separate thyself from thy enemies, and take heed of thy friends.

 

 

6:16 A faithful friend is the medicine of life and immortality: and they that fear the Lord, shall find him.

 

 

6:6 Be in peace with many, but let one of a thousand be thy counsellor.

———————

 

2:20 They that fear the Lord, will prepare their hearts, and in his sight will sanctify their souls,

 

STAv quotes

 

 

“I care more about the smallest degree of progress achieved by one single

soul than for all the things that people may say about me”

 

“Your Reverence must beseech God

either to take me to be with Him or to give me the means of serving Him. May it

please His Majesty that what is written here may be of some profit to Your

Reverence, for the little opportunity I have of writing has made it a laborious task

for me. But the task will be a happy one if I have managed to say anything for

which one single act of praise will be made to the Lord. This alone would make me

feel rewarded, even were Your Reverence then to burn what I have written

immediately. “

 

“May it please the Lord that I may not have erred in this, for my intention and desire

have been to be accurate and obedient and I have hoped that through me some

praise might be given to the Lord, a thing for which I have prayed for many years. “

 

« This vision will seem meaningless, but it has since brought me the greatest profit,

for its meaning was explained to me, and soon afterwards I found myself attacked,

in almost exactly that way, whereupon I realized that the vision was a picture of the

world, the whole of which seems to take up arms in an offensive against the poor

soul. Leaving out of account those who are not great servants of the Lord, and

honours and possessions and pleasures and other things of that kind, it is clear

that, when the soul is not on the look out, it will find itself ensnared, or at least all ****

these will strive their utmost to ensnare it — friends, relatives, and, what amazes

me most, very good people. By all these I found myself oppressed: they thought they

were doing right and I did not know how to stand up for myself or what to do. ****

Oh, God help me! If I were to describe the different kinds of trial which I had to bear

at this time, on top of the trials I have already mentioned, what a warning it would

be to people that they should hate everything worldly altogether! Of all the

persecutions I have suffered, this, I think, has been the worst. I mean that I found

myself sorely oppressed on every side and could get relief only by raising my eyes to

Heaven and calling upon God. I kept clearly in mind what I had seen in this vision.

It was of great help to me in teaching me not to put much trust in anyone, for there

is none who never changes save God. In these sore trials the Lord always sent me

some person coming from Him who would lend me a hand, exactly as He had shown

me that He would, and had revealed it to me in this vision, so that I had no need to

cling to anything but pleasing the Lord »

 

« dismayed to find that there was any created thing in which it could rest,

still more that I could come to have affection for any, for everything else seemed to

me a mere ant hill.

I assisted at Mass and communicated. I do not know how I did so. I thought I had

been there only a very short time and I was astounded when the clock struck and I

found that I had been in that state of rapture and bliss for two hours. Afterwards I

was amazed at having experienced this fire, which seems to proceed from on high,

and from the true love of God, for, however much I desire and strive and am

355Apocalypse iv, 6-8.234

consumed with the effort to attain it it is only when His Majesty so pleases, as I

have said on other occasions, that I am able to obtain so much as a single spark. It

seems to consume the old man, with his faults, his lukewarmness and his misery; it

is like the phoenix, from the ashes of which, after it has been burned (or so I have

read), comes forth another. Even so is the soul transformed into another, with its

fresh desires and its great fortitude. It seems not to be the same as before, but

begins to walk in the way of the Lord with a new purity. When I besought His

Majesty that this might be so with me and that I might begin to serve Him anew,

He said to me: “The comparison thou hast made is a good one: see thou forget it not,

that thou mayest ever strive to amend.”

Once when I was struggling with this same doubt that I described just now, as to

whether these visions were of God or no, the Lord appeared to me and exclaimed

sternly: “Oh, children of men, how long will ye be hard of heart?” I was to examine

myself thoroughly, He added, on one matter: Had I made a full surrender of myself

to Him or no? If I had, and was wholly His, I must have confidence that He would

not allow me to be lost. I felt greatly troubled at that exclamation of His. So, very

tenderly and consolingly, He told me again not to be troubled, for He knew well that

I would not knowingly fail to devote myself wholly to His service; and He promised

that all I desired should be performed »

 

« when I was in prayer, I felt within myself such great joy that, being unworthy

of such a blessing, I began to think how much more I deserved to be in the place

which I had seen prepared for me in hell; for, as I have said, I never forget the

vision which I once had of myself there. As I meditated in this way, my soul began

to be more vehemently enkindled and there came to me a spiritual transport of a

kind which I cannot describe. My spirit seemed to be plunged into that Majesty of

which I have been conscious on other occasions, and to be filled with It. In this

Majesty I was given to understand a truth which is the fulfilment of all truths, yet I

cannot tell how, for I saw nothing. Someone said to me — I could not see who, but I

was quite clear that it was the Truth Itself: “This that I am doing for thee is no

small thing, but one of the things for which thou art greatly indebted to Me; for all

the harm which comes to the world is due to a failure to know the truths of

Scripture in the clarity of their truth, of which not a tittle shall fail.”357 I thought

that I had always believed this and that all the faithful believed it. Then He said to

me: “Ah, daughter, how few are they who love Me in truth! If people loved Me, I

should not hide my secrets from them. Knowest thou what it is to love Me in truth?

It is to realize that everything which is not pleasing to Me is a lie. Thou dost not yet

realize this, but thou shalt come to see it clearly in the profit it will bring to thy

soul.”

And, praised be the Lord, I have indeed come to see it: since that time I have looked

upon all that I do not see being directed to the service of God as vanity and lies. I

could not explain how it is that I realize this or say how much I pity those whom I

see living in darkness with respect to this truth. From this, too, I have derived other

advantages which I shall here describe and many others which I cannot. On the

occasion referred to, the Lord said one special thing which has been of the greatest

help to me. I do not know how this happened, for I saw nothing, but, in a way which

I cannot explain, I acquired an extreme fortitude so that I became most firmly

resolved to carry out with all my might the very smallest thing contained in the

Divine Scripture. I believe that there is no obstacle that could present itself to me

which I could not overcome.

From this Divine Truth,358 which was presented to me with out my knowing what it

was or how it came, there remained imprinted upon me one truth in particular. It

gives me a fresh reverence for God, by granting me a knowledge of His Majesty and

Power in a way which it is impossible to describe; but I can at least understand that

it is a great thing »

 

« While I was distressed in this way, the Lord began

354St. Matthew xx, 10.233

to speak to me and told me not to be troubled: the state in which I found myself

would show me how miserable I should be if He withdrew from me; while we lived

in this flesh we were never safe. I was shown how well our time is spent in warring

and struggling for such a prize and it seemed to me that the Lord was sorry for

those of us who live in the world. But, He added, I was not to think myself forgotten,

for He would never leave me, though I myself must do all that lay in my power. This

the Lord said to me compassionately and tenderly, as well as other things in which

He was very gracious to me and which there is no need to repeat.

Often His Majesty says to me, as a sign of His great love: “Now thou art Mine and I

am thine.” There are some words which I am in the habit of repeating to myself —

and I believe I mean what I say. They are: “What do I care about myself, Lord, or

about anything but Thee »

 

 

 

 

«

Now, however, though, out of a zeal for

righteousness, people may speak very ill of me, and others are afraid to have

anything to do with me or to hear my confessions, while still others say all kinds of

things to my face, I care about it — glory be to God! — very little; for I believe the

Lord has chosen this means of helping many souls, and I know quite well how much

the Lord Himself would suffer for the sake of just one soul: I often call that to mind.

I do not know if it is for that reason that His Majesty has put me in this little

corner,366 where I live in such strict enclosure, and where I am so much like a dead

thing that I once thought nobody would ever remember me again. But this has not

been so to the extent that I should like, as there are certain people to whom I am

obliged to speak. Still, I am not in a place where I can be seen, so the Lord seems to

have been pleased at last to bring me to a haven, which I hope in His Majesty will

be a safe one.

As I am now out of the world, and my companions are few and saintly, I look down

upon the world as from above and care very little what people say or what is known

about me. I care more about the smallest degree of progress achieved by one single

soul than for all the things that people may say about me; for, since I have been

here, it has been the Lord’s will that this should become the aim of all my desires.

He has given me a life which is a kind of sleep: when I see things, I nearly always

seem to be dreaming them

 

 

 

 

They told me of a learned cleric who lived in that place, and whose goodness and

holy life the Lord was beginning to make known among the people.184 I got to know

him through a saintly gentleman who lived there also.185 This gentleman is

married, but his life is so exemplary and virtuous, and so outstanding in prayer and

charity, that everything he does is resplendent with his goodness and perfection.

And with good reason, for many souls have been greatly benefited by him: such

great talents has he that, although his being married is anything but a help to him,

he cannot do otherwise than use them. He is a man of great intelligence, and very

gentle with everybody; and his conversation is never wearisome, but so pleasant

and gracious, not to say upright and holy, that it gives great delight to those with

whom he has to do. He directs all he does to the great good of the souls with whom

he holds converse and he seems to have no other aim than to do whatever he can for

everyone he meets and to give everyone pleasure.

Well, so diligent on my behalf was this blessed and holy man that he seems to me to

have been the beginning of my soul’s salvation. The humility he has shown me is

astounding; for he has practised prayer, I believe, for nearly forty years — perhaps

two or three years less — and the life he lives, I think, is as nearly perfect as his

married state permits. His wife, too, is so great a servant of God and so charitable a

woman that she is no hindrance to him: indeed, she was chosen to be the wife of one

who God knew would be a great servant of His.

Some of their relatives were married to some of mine186 and I also had a good deal

to do with another great servant of God who was married to one of my cousins. It

was in this way that I arranged for this cleric who, as I say, was such a servant of

God to come to speak with me: he was a great friend of this gentleman and I

thought of having him as my confessor and director. When he had brought him to

talk to me, I, in the greatest confusion at finding myself in the presence of so holy a

man, spoke to him about my soul and my method of prayer, but he would not hear

my confession, saying that he was very much occupied, as indeed he was. He began

with the holy determination to treat me as if I were strong (and so I ought to have

been, considering the extent to which, as he saw, I practised prayer), so that I

should give no offence of any kind to God. But when I saw how determinedly he was

attacking these little habits of mine which I have already mentioned, and that I had

not courage enough to live more perfectly, I became distressed, and, realizing that

he was treating me in spiritual matters as though I were going to become perfect

immediately, I saw that I should have to be much more careful.

In due course I realized that I should not improve by using the means which he

employed with me, for they were meant for a soul which was much more perfect,

and I, though advanced in Divine favours, was, as regards virtues and mortification,

still quite a beginner. Really, if I had had nobody else to consult, I think my soul

would never have shown any improvement, for the distress which it caused me to

find that I was not doing what he told me, and felt unable to do so, was sufficient to

make me lose hope and give up the whole thing. I sometimes marvel that, though he

was a person with a particular gift for leading beginners to God, it was not God’s

184This was Gaspar Daza, a pious and learned priest who for some time was St. Teresa’s confessor

and helped her a great deal with the foundation of St. Joseph’s. He died in 1592.

185Don Francisco de Salcedo, an Ávilan gentleman whose wife, Doña Mencía del Águila, was a

cousin of the wife of Don Pedro de Cepeda, St. Teresa’s uncle (cf. n. 81). He had studied theology at

the Dominican College of St. Thomas, in Ávila, and after the death of his wife, took Holy Orders. He

died in 1580.

186One of these links is mentioned in the preceding note.133

will that he should understand my own soul or desire to take it into his charge. But

I see now that it was all for my good, so that I should get to know and consult people

as holy as those of the Company of Jesus.

So I made an arrangement with this saintly gentleman that he should sometimes

come to see me. It showed what great humility he had, that he should have been

willing to have to do with anyone as wicked as I. He began to pay me visits and to

encourage me and to tell me not to think that I could get rid of all my troubles in a

day but to be sure that God would help me to get rid of them by degrees. He himself,

he said, had for many years been troubled by some quite trivial imperfections,

which he had never been able to get rid of. O humility, what great blessings dost

thou bring to those who possess thee and also to those who have to do with the

humble minded! This saint (for so I think I can rightly call him) would tell me about

his own weaknesses — or what his humility led him to think of as such — so that he

might help me. Considered in relation to his state of life, they were neither faults

nor imperfections, though they would be great faults in the life of a religious like

myself. I am not saying this without a reason; I seem to be enlarging upon small

points, and yet these are most important if a soul which is not yet fledged, as they

say, is to begin to make progress and learn to fly, though no one will believe this

who has not experienced it. And as I hope in God that Your Reverence will benefit

 

 

 

Lord permitted it so that I

might suffer. I do not mean that they divulged what I had told them in confession,

but none the less, as they were people whom I had consulted about my fears, so that

I might obtain light from them, I thought they ought to have kept silence. In spite of

this, however, I never dared to hide anything from such persons. I think then, that

women should be counselled with great discretion, and encouraged, and the right

moment should be awaited, at which the Lord will help them as He has helped me:

had He not done so, I should have come to great harm, so timorous was I and so

fearful. Considering the serious heart trouble from which I was suffering, I am

amazed that this did not greatly harm me.

Well, when I had given him the book, together with the best general account of my

life and sins that I could (not in confession, as he was a layman, but I made it very

clear to him how wicked I was), these two servants of God188 considered with great

charity and love what would be best for me. At length they gave me the reply which

I had awaited with such dread. During the intervening days I had begged many

persons to commend me to God and had prayed continually. But, when this

gentleman came to me, it was to tell me with great distress that to the best of their

belief my trouble came from the devil, and the wisest thing for me to do would be to

discuss it with a Father of the Company of Jesus, who would come to see me if I

asked him to do so and told him what I needed. I could then give him a perfectly

clear description of my whole life and spiritual state in the form of a general

confession; and through the virtue of the Sacrament of Confession God would give

him more light on my case: these Fathers were men of great experience in spiritual

matters. I ought not, they said, to depart in the very least from whatever he might

say, because if I had no one to direct me I was in great peril.

This caused me such distress and fear that I did not know what to do: I could only

weep. But while I was in an oratory, in great affliction, and not knowing what was

188Salcedo and Daza.135

to become of me, I read in a book, which it seemed as if the Lord had put into my

hands, those words of Saint Paul, that God is very faithful and never allows people

who love Him to be deluded by the devil.189 This was the greatest comfort to me. I

began to think over my general confession and to write down all my good and bad

points and prepare the clearest account of my life that I possibly could, leaving

nothing unsaid. I remember that, after writing it, I found so many bad points and so

little that was good that it caused me the greatest distress and affliction. I was also

troubled that my sisters in the convent should see me consulting such saintly people

as those of the Company of Jesus; for I was afraid of my wickedness and thought

that I should now be obliged to abandon it and to give up my pastimes, and that if I

did not do so I should grow worse; and so I arranged with the sacristan and portress

that they should not talk about it to anyone. However, this was of little use, because

when I was sent for there was someone at the door who talked about it all over the

convent. What a lot of obstacles and fears the devil sets before those who are

anxious to approach God!

I told that servant of God190 all about my soul (and he was indeed a servant of God

and a very prudent one, too); and, being well versed in the subject, he told me what

was wrong and greatly encouraged me. He said that I was very evidently being led

 

 

 

 

 

They look at religion too much from the point of view of
philosophy, sociology, or even of esthetics. They see in it only those elements which
appeal to the mind and excite the sensibilities and imagination. They give free scope to
their inclination to regard religion as a sublime school of poetry and of incomparable art.
It is quite true that religion possesses all these qualities; but to consider it only under
these secondary aspects would be to subject the economy of the Gospel to a grievous
distortion, making an end of something that is nothing but a means. But it is a species of
sacrilege to take the Christ of Gethsemani, of the Pretorium, of Calvary, merely as a good
subject for a holy picture. Ever since man sinned, penance, reparation, and spiritual war
have become necessary conditions of our life. At every turn, the Cross of Christ is there
to remind us of the fact. The Incarnate Word’s zeal for His Father’s glory will not be
satisfied with mere admiration: He wants imitation.
Benedict XV invited all true apostles, in his

 

*****“Our ambition,” continued Canon Timon-David, speaking with profound conviction,
“our ambition must be to form workers in whom the love of God is so strong that after
they have married and left the club they should remain apostles, eager to share their
charity with the greatest possible number of souls.” And the holy priest continued: “If our
apostolate were to aim only at forming good Christians, then our ideal would be feeble indeed! What we have to do is create legions of apostles so that the family, the
fundamental social unit, may become in turn a center of the apostolate. Now this whole
program cannot be realized unless we lead lives of sacrifice and of intimate friendship
with Christ; otherwise we shall never be strong enough, nor discover the secret of
success. On these conditions alone will our activity make itself felt in society, or the word
of our Master be fulfilled: “I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and what will I but
that it be kindled?” 66
Not until long afterward, alas, did we understand the drift of the living lessons of the
Canon, who was such a profound psychologist and tactician, and compare the results of
the different means employed, under the eye of God, to whom merely apparent successes
mean nothing at all.
According as the means employed are simple, like the Gospel, or complicated, after
the fashion of all things that have too much that is merely human in them, we can
evaluate both a movement and those who are running it.

 

without quite seeing his correct
meaning, one might well wonder if he was not too sweeping in his enumeration of the
cases when “crutches” can be discarded.
Leaving to one side works that are founded chiefly for the relief of bodily ills, we
may divide the others into two classes: those which take only carefully selected members,
and those which exclude none but the scabby sheep. But we also assume that even in the latter case, a nucleus of “shock troops” will be
formed, youths who will be able, by their fervor, to bring home to the others what the
principal aim of the movement is, and to bring all the other members to lead a life that is
Christian not merely on the surface, but deep down in the soul. Otherwise, what have we
got? “An ordinary social club, run by a priest,” according to the ironical expression of a
state-school teacher of great ability who was able to detect, behind the clerical front, just
about as many weaknesses as he deplored i

 

they can well do without, or which they only tolerate with unfeigned repugnance.
And as a matter of fact, they do not easily run short of arguments in favor of their
viewpoint.
As far as they are concerned, the regeneration of society, and especially of France,
can come only as a result of a more intense radiation of the holiness of the Church. It is
by this means, they say, rather than by lectures and apologetics that Christianity
developed so rapidly in the first centuries of its history, in spite of the power of its
enemies, of prejudices of all sorts, and of the general corruption.
They put an end to all argument by an answer like this: Can you quote any fact, just
one fact, to show that during that time the Church needed to think up amusements to turn
aside the souls she was going to conquer from the filth of pagan shows?
One of these directors of Catholic Action remarked, in allusion to the thirst for
money and the infatuation for the films which keep the bulk of the population in our days
in a fever of excited craving for enjoyment: “The Panem et Circenses (Bread an

 

our own century, we do not have an excessive confidence not only in certain garish
forms of amusement, but even in various other means (like pilgrimages, ostentatious
festivals, congresses, speeches, publications, syndicates, political action, and so on),
which are lavished upon us with such abundance in our day and which are doubtless very
useful, but which it would be a great mistake to put in the first place. Preaching by
example will always be the foremost instrument of con-versions. Only exempla trahunt. Lectures, good books, Christian newspapers and magazines, and even fine sermons must
gravitate around this fundamental program: that we need to influence people by an
apostolate of good example, the example of fervent Christians, who make Jesus Christ
live again on this earth by spreading about them the good odor of His virtues.
Priests who allow themselves to be absorbed by all the other functions of their
ministry and do not give themselves, except in an insufficient manner, to the chief of
them, which is the formation of perfect Chris

th his deep understanding of the needs of the Church, Pius X often saw things
with a most remarkable clarity. An interesting conversation of the Holy Pontiff with a
group of Cardinals was reported in the French clerical publication, “L’Arni du Clerge.”71
The Pope asked them:
“What is the thing we most need, today, to save society?”
“Build Catholic schools,” said one.
“No.”
“More churches,” said another.
“Still no.”
“Speed up the recruiting of priests,” said a third.
“No, no,” said the Pope, “the MOST necessary thing of all, at this time, is for every
parish to possess a group of laymen who will be at the same time virtuous, enlightened,
resolute, and truly apostolic.”72 Further details enable us to assert that this holy Pope at
the end of his life saw no hope for the salvation of the world, unless the clergy could use
their zeal to form faithful Christians full of apostolic ardor, preaching by word and
example, but especially by example. In the diocese where he served before being elevated
to the Papacy, he attached less importance to the census of parishioners than to the list of
Christians capable of radiating an apostolate. It was his opinion that shock troops could be formed in any environment. Furthermore, he graded his priests according to the results
which their zeal and ability had produced in this regard.
The views of this saintly Pope give im

 

regard.
The views of this saintly Pope give immense weight to the opinion of the directors of
Catholic Action who fall into the first class mentioned above. The ones, that is, who
believe that if the only true strategy for action on the bulk of the population is to form
shock troops of perfect Christian laymen, it follows that to retain in the movement
members who arouse no hope that they will ever become fervent is a real fault insofar as
one thus exposes himself to lowering the level of the elite to such a point that it is only
“select” in name, not in fact.
Other leaders, who confine themselves to discarding the positively noxious
candidates, will still have much to say against the expression of “crutches” as a name for
certain of their methods which appear, in their own estimation, most effective.
They come forward with the argument that unless souls will be exposed to great
danger, or that if one Catholic Action provides a shelter for them, such aimed only at
forming select groups, one would have to be satisfied with a microscopic recruitment, or
that those who are to be evangelized live in a plague-infested atmosphere, and so on. It
would be unjust and cruel, they say, to neglect the masses and to seek only to reach them
through the operations of shock troops without attempting direct action upon
the mediocre souls, were it only in order to keep them from falling lower — if not to
produce among them some candidates for the select corps.

 

With his deep understanding of the needs of the Church, Pius X often saw things
with a most remarkable clarity. An interesting conversation of the Holy Pontiff with a
group of Cardinals was reported in the French clerical publication, “L’Arni du Clerge.”71
The Pope asked them:
“What is the thing we most need, today, to save society?”
“Build Catholic schools,” said one.
“No.”
“More churches,” said another.
“Still no.”
“Speed up the recruiting of priests,” said a third.
“No, no,” said the Pope, “the MOST necessary thing of all, at this time, is for every
parish to possess a group of laymen who will be at the same time virtuous, enlightened,
resolute, and truly apostolic.”72

The views of this saintly Pope give immense weight to the opinion of the directors of
Catholic Action who fall into the first class mentioned above. The ones, that is, who
believe that if the only true strategy for action on the bulk of the population is to form
shock troops of perfect Christian laymen, it follows that to retain in the movement
members who arouse no hope that they will ever become fervent is a real fault insofar as
one thus exposes himself to lowering the level of the elite to such a point that it is only
“select” in name, not in fact.

 

in the midst of our work.
PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS
1. Let the following conviction become deeply impressed upon your mind; namely,
that a soul cannot lead an interior life without the schedule we have referred to, and
without the firm resolution to keep it all the time, especially where the rigorously fixed
hour of rising is concerned.
2. Base your interior life on its absolutely necessary element: morning mental prayer.
St. Theresa said that, “The person who is fully determined to make a half hour’s mental
prayer every morning, cost what it may, has already traveled half his journey.” Without
mental prayer, the day will almost unavoidably be a tepid one.
3. Mass, Holy Communion, and the recitation of the Breviary are liturgical functions
which offer inexhaustible resources for the interior life and are to be exploited with an
ever increasing faith and fervor.
4. The particular and general examinations of conscience, should, like mental prayer
and the liturgical life, help us to develop custody of the heart in which “watching” and
“praying” (“Vigilate et orate”) are combined. The soul that pays attention to what is
going on inside itself, and is sensitive to the presence of the Aiost Holy Trinity within it, acquires an almost instinctive habit of turning to Jesus in every situation, but especially
when there appears to be some dange

 

 

True Apostolate

The virtue of Religion disposes our soul for the gift of piety, which is so essential to the spiritual life, for, says St. Paul, “Piety is profitable to all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (I Tim. 4. 8). Piety is also the base of the science of prayer.
1. The Liturgy may he considered as a school for acquiring four fruits. First Fruit, the presence of God. With admirable abundance and variety the Liturgy reminds us of the Dogma of the Blessed Trinity; and this mystery, by revealing to us God’s essential and intimate life, recalls our beginning and our final end and, consequently, God’s eternal life and the Immortality of our soul. The liturgical soul lives by the thought of Eternity, and in the light of Eternity disposes her existence, reanimates her filial fear, her firm confidence in God and His Providence over ail things. The soul, being so frequently reminded of the worship of God and His infinite perfections, acquires an habitual attitude of reverence and adoration towards God. The soul, being thus in the presence of God, the Rewarder of the good and Punisher of the wicked, acquires a filial and cheerful obedience and submission in all things to His divine will, and a profound respect for God’s rights and dispensations.

SOA

And yet, the reading of Cassian, and of several Fathers of the Church, as well as St.
Ignatius, St. Francis de Sales, and St. Vincent de Paul, persuades us that the particular
and general examinations are absolutely necessary adjuncts of mental prayer, and are
closely linked with custody of the heart.
Following the guidance of the director, the soul is now resolved to take a more direct
aim, in meditation and during the course of the day, at some special defect or some
special virtue which is the chief source of other defects and virtues.

 

Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher, no drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and no lover of money. He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way; for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil; moreover he must be well thought of by outsiders, or he may fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1 Timothy 3:2-7)

2 Thessalonians 2:15 Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)
15Â So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.

 

union of deep humility and supernatural magnanimity is particularly mysterious in the saints. In this respect they reproduce the life of the Savior, while remaining far from His perfection. This point must be emphasized, for in it is a great lesson for us. On the one hand, the saints declare that they are the least of men because of their infidelity to grace, and on the other hand they have a superhuman dignity. For example, St. Paul says of himself: “He rose again the third day. . . and was seen by Cephas, and after that by the eleven. Then he was seen by more than five hundred brethren at once. . . and last of all He was seen also by me as by one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God.” (21) He even speaks of the infirmities that humiliate him and oblige him to pray God to come to his relief.(22)
On the other hand, when St. Paul had to defend his ministry against false apostles, he wrote with magnanimity: “They are Hebrews: so am I. . . . They are the ministers of Christ (I speak as one less wise): I am more; in many more labors, in prisons more frequently, in stripes above measure, in deaths often. . . . Thrice was I beaten with rods, once I was stoned.” (23) He enumerates his labors, his cares; he even speaks of the visions and revelations he received from God. But finally, reverting to a deeper humility he writes: “And lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me, there was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me [that I might not become proud]. For which thing thrice I be sought the Lord that it might depart from me. And He said to me: ‘My grace is sufficient for thee; for power is made perfect in infirmity.’ Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (24)

 

SOA
In the same way the soul that is dedicated to the greatest and most perfect of all
works, the apostolate, must live in God in order to be able to talk about Him
meaningfully and with effect; and, let us say it again, that the active life can and must
only be, in any soul, the overflow of the interior life.

 

much better it would be for them if they strove after it rather than after great dominion! What uprightness there would be in their kingdoms! How many evils would be prevented — and might have been prevented already! Here no one fears to lose life or honour for the love of God. How great a blessing would such a state be for one who is more bound than those beneath him to consider the Lord’s honour — kings will always lead and the people will follow! For the sake of the smallest increase in the number of the faithful and for the privilege of affording heretics the smallest glimmer of light, I would give up a thousand kingdoms, and rightly so. For it is a different thing to win a kingdom that shall have no end, because a single drop of the water of that kingdom gives him who tastes it a loathing for everything earthly. What will it be, then, when the soul is completely engulfed in such water? O Lord, if Thou wert to give me the vocation to proclaim this aloud, I should be disbelieved, as are many who can speak of it in a way very different from mine. But at least I should myself have satisfaction. If I could make others understand a single one of these truths I think I should set little store by my own life. I do not know what I should do afterwards, for I am entirely untrustworthy; despite my being the sort of person I am, I keep experiencing strong and consuming impulses to say this to persons in authority. But as I can do no more, my Lord, I turn to Thee, to beg of Thee a remedy for everything, and well dost Thou know that, provided I remain in such a state as not to offend Thee, I would very gladly strip myself of the favours Thou hast granted me and give them to kings; for I know that, if they had them, it would be impossible for them to permit things which they permit now, or to fail to possess the greatest blessings. O my God! Give them to understand how great are their obligations. For Thou hast been pleased to single them out on earth in such a way that, as I have heard, when Thou dost remove one of them, Thou even showest signs in the heavens. Enkindled indeed, is my devotion, O my King, when I reflect that it is Thy will that this should teach them that they must imitate Thee in their lives, since at their deaths there are such signs in the heavens as there were when Thou Thyself didst die.121 I am being very bold. Your Reverence

****Mental prayer is a furnace, in which the watch-fires of vigilance are constantly
rekindled.
Fidelity to mental prayer gives life to all our other pious exercises. By it, the soul
will gradually acquire vigilance and a spirit of prayer, that is, a habit of ever more
frequent recourse to God.
Union with God in mental prayer will lead to intimate union with Him, even in the
midst of our most absorbing occupations.
The soul, thus living in union with God, by custody of the heart, will draw down into
itself, more and more, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the infused virtues, and perhaps God
will call it to a higher degree of prayer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.