MARY, OUR MOTHER

Sunday, April 30, 2006




Today the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI addressed more than 30,000 people in St. Peter's Square and said a few words about Mary, Our Mother! Here is an excerpt from the words he spoke after the recital of the Regina Caeli, which is prayed during Easter, instead of the Angelus, until the Feast of Pentecost:

"In the days following the resurrection of the Lord, the Apostles stayed gathered together, comforted by the presence of Mary, and after the Ascension, they persevered with her in prayerful anticipation of Pentecost. Our Lady was, for them, like a mother and teacher, a role she continues to undertake with Christians of all times. Every year, at Easter time, we relive this experience more intensely and perhaps this is why popular tradition consecrated the month of May to Mary, as it normally falls between Easter and Pentecost. This month, starting tomorrow, is useful for us to rediscover the maternal function she has in our life, so that we will be ever more meek disciples and courageous witnesses of the Risen Lord. To Mary we entrust the needs of the Church and the whole world, especially at this time when it is marked by not inconsiderable shadows. Invoking also the intercession of St Joseph, whom we remember in a special way tomorrow when we focus on the world of work, we turn to Her in the Regina Caeli prayer, which allows us to savour the comforting joy of the presence of the Risen Lord."

Yes, Holy Father, the Church and the world are shrouded with "inconsiderable shadows!" The rumors of a larger war on the horizon; the secularist and atheistic governments and leaders attacking God and His Church; the fanatical anti-christs, secular and religious, who are trying to destroy the belief in Christ and eradicate Christianity; the courts, who continue to deny the right to life from conception until natural death; and the attacks on God's Laws (Ten Commandments). These are just some of the sinister evils that are provoking Almighty God to send us a chastisement. Read some of the messages that Our Lady has given to the world through her many apparitions. We are in trouble! Let us turn to Mary, asking her to intercede before her Son, Jesus, our Mediator before the Father, so that God's justice will be softened with His Divine Mercy! Let us ask Saint Joseph, whose Feast Day we celebrate tomorrow (May 1st, St. Joseph the Worker), who holds Jesus in his arms, to bless the world with His Peace!

Jesus, Mary & Joseph,

we love you,
save souls!








The Fifty-Eighth Chapter
High Matters and the Hidden Judgments of God Are Not to Be Scrutinized

The Voice of Christ:
MY CHILD, beware of discussing high matters and God’s hidden judgments—why this person is so forsaken and why that one is favored with so great a grace, or why one man is so afflicted and another so highly exalted. Such things are beyond all human understanding and no reason or disputation can fathom the judgments of God.

When the enemy puts such suggestions in your mind, therefore, or when some curious persons raise questions about them, answer with the prophet: “Thou art just, O Lord, and righteous are Thy judgments”; [Psalm 118:137] and this: “The judgments of the Lord are true and wholly righteous.” [Psalm 18:10] My judgments are to be feared, not discussed, because they are incomprehensible to the understanding of men. [Rom. 11:23]

In like manner, do not inquire or dispute about the merits of the saints, as to which is more holy, or which shall be greater in the kingdom of heaven. [Matt. 18:1]

Such things often breed strife and useless contentions. They nourish pride and vainglory, whence arise envy and quarrels, when one proudly tries to exalt one saint and the other another. A desire to know and pry into such matters brings forth no fruit. On the contrary, it displeases the saints, because I am the God, not of dissension, but of peace [1 Cor. 14:33]—of that peace which consists in true humility rather than in self-exaltation.

Some are drawn by the ardor of their love with greater affection to these saints or to those, but this affection is human and not divine.

I am He who made all the saints. I gave them grace: I brought them to glory. I know the merits of each of them. I came before them in the blessings of My sweetness. I knew My beloved ones before the ages. I chose them out of the world—they did not choose Me. [John 15:16] I called them by grace, I drew them on by mercy. I led them safely through various temptations. I poured into them glorious consolations. I gave them perseverance and I crowned their patience. I know the first and the last. I embrace them all with love inestimable. I am to be praised in all My saints. I am to be blessed above all things, [Dan. 3:52] and honored in each of those whom I have exalted and predestined so gloriously without any previous merits of their own.

He who despises one of the least of mine, therefore, does no honor to the greatest, for both the small and the great I made. [Wis. 6:7] And he who disparages one of the saints disparages Me also and all others in the kingdom of heaven. They are all one through the bond of charity. They have the same thought and the same will, and they mutually love one another; [John 17:21] but, what is a much greater thing, they love Me more than themselves or their own merits. Rapt above themselves, and drawn beyond love of self, they are entirely absorbed in love of Me, in Whom they rest. There is nothing that can draw them away or depress them, for they who are filled with eternal truth burn with the fire of unquenchable love.

Therefore, let carnal and sensual men, who know only how to love their own selfish joys, forbear to dispute about the state of God’s saints. Such men take away and add according to their own inclinations and not as it pleases the Eternal Truth. In many this is sheer ignorance, especially in those who are but little enlightened and can rarely love anyone with a purely spiritual love.

They are still strongly drawn by natural affection and human friendship to one person or another, and on their behavior in such things here below are based their imaginings of heavenly things. But there is an incomparable distance between the things which the imperfect imagine and those which enlightened men contemplate through revelation from above.

Be careful, then, My child, of treating matters beyond your knowledge out of curiosity. Let it rather be your business and aim to be found, even though the least, in the kingdom of God. For though one were to know who is more holy than another, or who is greater in the kingdom of heaven, of what value would this knowledge be to him unless out of it he should humble himself before Me and should rise up in greater praise of My name?

The man who thinks of the greatness of his own sins and the littleness of his virtues, and of the distance between himself and the perfection of the saints, acts much more acceptably to God than the one who argues about who is greater or who is less. It is better to invoke the saints with devout prayers and tears, and with a humble mind to beg their glorious aid, than to search with vain inquisitiveness into their secrets.

The saints are well and perfectly contented if men know how to content themselves and cease their useless discussions. They do not glory in their own merits, for they attribute no good to themselves but all to Me, because out of My infinite charity I gave all to them. They are filled with such love of God and with such overflowing joy, that no glory is wanting to them and they can lack no happiness. All the saints are so much higher in glory as they are more humble in themselves; nearer to Me, and more beloved by Me. Therefore, you find it written that they cast their crowns before God, and fell down upon their faces before the Lamb, and adored Him Who lives forever. [Apoc. 4:10]

Many ask who is the greater in the kingdom of heaven when they do not know whether they themselves shall be worthy of being numbered among its least. It is a great thing to be even the least in heaven where all are great because all shall be called, and shall be, the children of God. [Matt. 5:9]

The least shall be as a thousand, and the sinner of a hundred years shall die. [Isa. 9:22] For when the disciples asked who should be greater in the kingdom of heaven they heard this response: “Unless you be converted and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whosoever shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven.” [Matt. 18:3]

Woe to those, therefore, who disdain to humble themselves willingly with the little children, for the low gate of the heavenly kingdom will not permit them to enter. Woe also to the rich who have their consolations here, [Luke 6:24] for when the poor enter into God’s kingdom, they will stand outside lamenting.

Rejoice, you humble, and exult, you poor, for the kingdom of God is yours, [Matt. 5:3] if only you walk in the truth.

[Imitation of Christ, Book Three. Public Domain.]

Saturday, April 29, 2006



The Fifty-Seventh Chapter
A Man Should Not Be Too Downcast When He Falls Into Defects


The Voice of Christ:
MY CHILD, patience and humility in adversity are more pleasing to Me than much consolation and devotion when things are going well.

Why are you saddened by some little thing said against you? Even if it had been more you ought not to have been affected. But now let it pass.

It is not the first, nor is it anything new, and if you live long it will not be the last.

You are manly enough so long as you meet no opposition. You give good advice to others, and you know how to strengthen them with words, but when unexpected tribulation comes to your door, you fail both in counsel and in strength.

Consider your great weakness, then, which you experience so often in small matters. Yet when these and like trials happen, they happen for your good.

Put it out of your heart as best you know how, and if it has touched you, still do not let it cast you down or confuse you for long. Bear it patiently at least, if you cannot bear it cheerfully. Even though you bear it unwillingly, and are indignant at it, restrain yourself and let no ill-ordered words pass your lips at which the weak might be scandalized.

The storm that is now aroused will soon be quieted and your inward grief will be sweetened by returning grace. “I yet live,” says the Lord, “ready to help you and to console you more and more, if you trust in Me and call devoutly upon Me.”

Remain tranquil [Mark 10:49] and prepare to bear still greater trials. All is not lost even though you be troubled oftener or tempted more grievously. You are a man, not God. You are flesh, not an angel.

How can you possibly expect to remain always in the same state of virtue when the angels in heaven and the first man in paradise failed to do so?

I am He Who rescues the afflicted and brings to My divinity those who know their own weakness.

The Disciple:
Blessed be Your words, O Lord, sweeter to my mouth than honey and the honeycomb. [Ps 18:2] What would I do in such great trials and anxieties, if You did not strengthen me with Your holy words? If I may but attain to the haven of salvation, what does it matter what or how much I suffer? Grant me a good end. Grant me a happy passage out of this world. Remember me, my God, and lead me by the right way into Your kingdom.


[Imitation of Christ, Book Three. Public Domain.]



Latest Medjugorje Message from Our Lady, Queen of Peace:

Message of April 25, 2006

“Dear children!

Also today I call you
to have more trust in me and my Son.
He has conquered
by His death and resurrection and, through me, calls you to be a part of His joy.
You do not see God, little children,
but if you pray
you will feel His nearness.
I am with you
and intercede before God for each of you.
Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Friday, April 28, 2006




LOUIS MARY DE MONTFORT (Optional Memorial)

Saint Louis was born to a poor family in 1673 at Montfort-la-Cane in Brittany. He was ordained to the priesthood at the age of 27 and he had a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He wrote many books and pamphlets, but two stand out as his greatest: The Secret of the Rosary (his first work) and True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

During his life he founded the 'Company of Mary', a missionary group for men and the 'Congregation of the Daughters of Divine Wisdom', a religious institute of women devoted to helping the poor.

St. Louis died at Saint-Laurent-sur-Sevre on April 28, 1716. He was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1888 and canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1947. There is a petition at the Vatican that he be declared a Doctor of the Church.

His 'Total Consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary' is a special way of life for those devoted to Our Lady. I have made this consecration myself and I'm sure that it has brought me closer to loving God in the Most Blessed Trinity and my brothers and sisters in Christ, through Mary, our Mother.

Here are the Proper Mass Prayers for the Feast and an excerpt from 'The Collected Writings of St. Louis de Montfort,' 1995, Montfort Publications, Bay Shore, New York:

ENTRANCE ANTIPHON
The Spirit of God is upon me; he has anointed me. He sent me to bring good news to the poor, and to heal the brokenhearted. (Luke 4:18)

OPENING PRAYER
God of eternal wisdom,
you made your priest Louis Mary
an outstanding witness and teacher
of total dedication to Christ your Son
through the hands of the blessed Mother.
Grant that we may follow that same spiritual path
and extend your kingdom on earth.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.

PRAYER OVER THE GIFTS
Father of mercy,
we have these gifts to offer in honor of your saints
who have bore witness to your mighty power.
May the power of the Eucharist
bring us your salvation.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.

COMMUNION ANTIPHON
I, the Lord, am with you always, until the end of the world.
(Matthew 28:20)

PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION
Lord,
may the mysteries we receive
prepare us for the eternal joys
Saint Louis de Montfort won by his faithful ministry.
We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.

**************************************************************************

As in the natural life a child must have a father and a mother, so in the supernatural life of grace a true child of the Church must have God for his Father and Mary for his Mother. If he prides himself on having God for his Father but does not give Mary the tender affection of a true child, he is an imposter and his father is the devil . . .

Mary received from God a unique dominion over souls enabling her to nourish them and make them more and more godlike. Saint Augustine went so far as to say that even in this world all the elect are enclosed in the womb of Mary, and that their real birthday is when this good mother brings them forth to eternal life. Consequently, just as an infant draws all its nourishment from its mother, who gives according to its needs, so the elect draw all their spiritual nourishment and all their strength from Mary.

It was to Mary that God the Father said, "Dwell in Jacob," that is, dwell in my elect who are typified by Jacob. It was to Mary that God the Son said, "My dear Mother, your inheritance is in Israel," that is, in the elect.
It was to Mary that the Holy Spirit said, "Place your roots in my elect." Whoever, then, is of the chosen and predestinate will have the Blessed Virgin living within him, and he will let her plant in his very soul the roots of every virtue, but especially deep humility and ardent charity.

Mary is called by Saint Augustine, and is indeed, the "living mold of God." In her alone the God-man was formed in his human nature without losing any features of the Godhead. In her alone, by the grace of Jesus Christ, man is made godlike as far as human nature is capable of it.

SAINT LOUIS DE MONTFORT



The Fifty-Sixth Chapter
We Ought to Deny Ourselves and Imitate Christ Through Bearing the Cross


The Voice of Christ:
MY CHILD, the more you depart from yourself, the more you will be able to enter into Me. As the giving up of exterior things brings interior peace, so the forsaking of self unites you to God. I will have you learn perfect surrender to My will, without contradiction or complaint.

Follow Me. [John 21:19] I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. [John 14:6] Without the Way, there is no going. Without the Truth, there is no knowing. Without the Life, there is no living.

I am the Way which you must follow, the Truth which you must believe, the Life for which you must hope.

I am the inviolable Way, the infallible Truth, the unending Life. I am the Way that is straight, the supreme Truth, the Life that is true, the blessed, the uncreated Life.

If you abide in My Way you shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free, and you shall attain life everlasting. [Matt. 19:29]

If you wish to enter into life, keep My commandments. [Matt. 19:17]
If you will know the truth, believe in Me. [John 14:17]
If you will be perfect, sell all. [Matt. 19:21]
If you will be My disciple, deny yourself. [Matt. 16:24]
If you will possess the blessed life, despise this present life. [Matt. 16:25]
If you will be exalted in heaven, humble yourself on earth. [Matt. 18:4]
If you wish to reign with Me, carry the Cross with Me. For only the servants of the Cross find the life of blessedness and of true light.

The Disciple:
Lord Jesus, because Your way is narrow and despised by the world, grant that I may despise the world and imitate You.

For the servant is not greater than his Lord, nor the disciple above the Master. [Matt. 10:24] Let Your servant be trained in Your life, for there is my salvation and true holiness.

Whatever else I read or hear does not fully refresh or delight me.

The Voice of Christ:
My child, now that you know these things and have read them all, happy will you be if you do them.

He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is that loves Me. And I will love him and will show Myself to him, [John 14:21] and will bring it about that he will sit down with Me in My Father’s Kingdom. [Matt. 19:28]

The Disciple:
Lord Jesus, as You have said, so be it, and what You have promised, let it be my lot to win. I have received the cross, from Your hand I have received it. I will carry it, carry it even unto death as You have laid it upon me.

Truly, the life of a good religious man is a cross, but it leads to paradise.

We have begun—we may not go back, nor may we leave off. [Luke 18:62]

Take courage, brethren, let us go forward together and Jesus will be with us. [Heb. 12:1]

For Jesus’ sake we have taken this cross. For Jesus’ sake let us persevere with it. He will be our help as He is also our leader and guide.

Behold, our King goes before us and will fight for us. Let us follow like men. Let no man fear any terrors. Let us be prepared to meet death valiantly in battle. Let us not suffer our glory to be blemished by fleeing from the Cross. [1 Mach. 9:10]

[Imitation of Christ, Book Three. Public Domain.]

Thursday, April 27, 2006




The Fifty-Fifth Chapter
The Corruption of Nature and the Efficacy of Divine Grace

The Disciple:
O LORD, my God, Who created me to Your own image and likeness, grant me this grace which You have shown to be so great and necessary for salvation, that I may overcome my very evil nature that is drawing me to sin and perdition.


For I feel in my flesh the law of sin contradicting the law of my mind and leading me captive to serve sensuality in many things. I cannot resist the passions thereof unless Your most holy grace warmly infused into my heart assist me.

There is need of Your grace, and of great grace, in order to overcome a nature prone to evil from youth. For through the first man, Adam, nature is fallen and weakened by sin, and the punishment of that stain has fallen upon all mankind. Thus nature itself, which You created good and right, is considered a symbol of vice and the weakness of corrupted nature, because when left to itself it tends toward evil and to baser things.

The little strength remaining in it is like a spark hidden in ashes. That strength is natural reason which, surrounded by thick darkness, still has the power of judging good and evil, of seeing the difference between true and false, though it is not able to fulfill all that it approves and does not enjoy the full light of truth or soundness of affection.

Hence it is, my God, that according to the inward man I delight in Your law, [Rom. 7:22] knowing that Your command is good, just, and holy, and that it proves the necessity of shunning all evil and sin. But in the flesh I keep the law of sin, obeying sensuality rather than reason. Hence, also, it is that the will to good is present in me, but how to accomplish it I know not.

Hence, too, I often propose many good things, but because the grace to help my weakness is lacking, I recoil and give up at the slightest resistance. Thus it is that I know the way of perfection and see clearly enough how I ought to act, but because I am pressed down by the weight of my own corruption I do not rise to more perfect things.

How extremely necessary to me, O Lord, Your grace is to begin any good deed, to carry it on and bring it to completion! For without grace I can do nothing, but with its strength I can do all things in You. [Phil. 4:13]

O Grace truly heavenly, without which our merits are nothing and no gifts of nature are to be esteemed!

Before You, O Lord, no arts or riches, no beauty or strength, no wit or intelligence avail without grace. For the gifts of nature are common to good and bad alike, but the peculiar gift of Your elect is grace or love, and those who are signed with it are held worthy of everlasting life.

So excellent is this grace that without it no gift of prophecy or of miracles, no meditation be it ever so exalted, can be considered anything. Not even faith or hope or other virtues are acceptable to You without charity and grace.

O most blessed grace, which makes the poor in spirit rich in virtues, which renders him who is rich in many good things humble of heart, come, descend upon me, fill me quickly with your consolation lest my soul faint with weariness and dryness of mind.

Let me find grace in Your sight, [Gen. 18:3] I beg, Lord, for Your grace is enough for me, [2 Cor. 12:9] even though I obtain none of the things which nature desires.

If I am tempted and afflicted with many tribulations, I will fear no evils while Your grace is with me. This is my strength. This will give me counsel and help. This is more powerful than all my enemies and wiser than all the wise. This is the mistress of truth, the teacher of discipline, the light of the heart, the consoler in anguish, the banisher of sorrow, the expeller of fear, the nourisher of devotion, the producer of tears.

What am I without grace, but dead wood, a useless branch, fit only to be cast away?

Let Your grace, therefore, go before me and follow me, O Lord, and make me always intent upon good works, through Jesus Christ, Your Son.

[Imitation of Christ, Book Three. Public Domain.]

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Our Lady of Good Counsel


On the Feast of Saint Mark, April 25 1467, the people of Genazzano, Italy witnessed a marvellous sight. A cloud descended upon an ancient church dedicated to Our Lady of Good Counsel. When the cloud disappeared, an image of Our Lady and the Child Jesus was revealed which had not been there before. The image, on a paper-thin sheet, was suspended miraculously.

Soon after the image's appearance many miracles were attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of Good Counsel. Because of this, Pope Paul II ordered an investigation and the results have been preserved.

It was later discovered that the very same image had been seen in a church dedicated to the Annunciation in Scutari, Albania. The image in this church was said to have arrived there in a miraculous manner. Now, the image had been transported from Albania miraculously to avoid sacrilege from Moslem invasion.

A commission of enquiry determined that a portrait from the church was indeed missing. An empty space the same size as the portrait was displayed for all to see.

Many miracles continue to be attributed to Our Lady of Good Counsel. Pope Saint Pius V, for example, credited victory in the Battle of Lepanto to Her intercession.

Several Popes have approved the miraculous image. In 1682 Pope Innocent XI had the portrait crowned with gold. On July 2 1753 Pope Benedict XIV approved the Scapular of Our Lady of Good Counsel, and was the first to wear it.

In 1884 a special Mass and Office of the Feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel was approved by Pope Leo XIII.

For more than 500 years the image has continued to attract countless pilgrims.

Although much of the church was destroyed during World War II, the image has remained intact - and continues to be suspended miraculously.


Prayer to Mary Most Holy of Good Counsel to Implore Her Protection:
"O Mary of Good Counsel, inflame the hearts of all Thy devotees, so that all of them have recourse to Thee, O great Mother of God. Deign, O most worthy Lady, that everyone choose Thee as teacher and wise counselor of their souls, since Thou art, as St. Augustine says, - the counsel of the Apostles and counsel of all peoples. Amen"



The Fifty-Fourth Chapter
The Different Motions of Nature and Grace


The Voice of Christ:
MY CHILD, pay careful attention to the movements of nature and of grace, for they move in very contrary and subtle ways, and can scarcely be distinguished by anyone except a man who is spiritual and inwardly enlightened.


All men, indeed, desire what is good, and strive for what is good in their words and deeds. For this reason the appearance of good deceives many.

Nature is crafty and attracts many, ensnaring and deceiving them while ever seeking itself. But grace walks in simplicity, turns away from all appearance of evil, offers no deceits, and does all purely for God in whom she rests as her last end.

Nature is not willing to die, or to be kept down, or to be overcome. Nor will it subdue itself or be made subject. Grace, on the contrary, strives for mortification of self. She resists sensuality, seeks to be in subjection, longs to be conquered, has no wish to use her own liberty, loves to be held under discipline, and does not desire to rule over anyone, but wishes rather to live, to stand, and to be always under God for Whose sake she is willing to bow humbly to every human creature. [1 Peter 2:13]

Nature works for its own interest and looks to the profit it can reap from another. Grace does not consider what is useful and advantageous to herself, but rather what is profitable to many. [1 Cor. 10:33]

Nature likes to receive honor and reverence, but grace faithfully attributes all honor and glory to God.

Nature fears shame and contempt, but grace is happy to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus.

Nature loves ease and physical rest. Grace, however, cannot bear to be idle and embraces labor willingly. [1 Cor. 15:10]

Nature seeks to possess what is rare and beautiful, abhorring things that are cheap and coarse. Grace, on the contrary, delights in simple, humble things, not despising those that are rough, nor refusing to be clothed in old garments.

Nature has regard for temporal wealth and rejoices in earthly gains. It is sad over a loss and irritated by a slight, injurious word. But grace looks to eternal things and does not cling to those which are temporal, being neither disturbed at loss nor angered by hard words, because she has placed her treasure and joy in heaven where nothing is lost.

Nature is covetous, and receives more willingly than it gives. It loves to have its own private possessions. Grace, however, is kind and openhearted. Grace shuns private interest, is contented with little, and judges it more blessed to give than to receive. [Acts 20:35]

Nature is inclined toward creatures, toward its own flesh, toward vanities, and toward running about. But grace draws near to God and to virtue, renounces creatures, hates the desires of the flesh, restrains her wanderings and blushes at being seen in public.

Nature likes to have some external comfort in which it can take sensual delight, but grace seeks consolation only in God, to find her delight in the highest Good, above all visible things.

Nature does everything for its own gain and interest. It can do nothing without pay and hopes for its good deeds to receive their equal or better, or else praise and favor. It is very desirous of having its deeds and gifts highly regarded. Grace, however, seeks nothing temporal, nor does she ask any recompense but God alone. Of temporal necessities she asks no more than will serve to obtain eternity.

Nature rejoices in many friends and kinsfolk, glories in noble position and birth, fawns on the powerful, flatters the rich, and applauds those who are like itself. But grace loves even her enemies and is not puffed up at having many friends. She does not think highly of either position or birth unless there is also virtue there. She favors the poor in preference to the rich. She sympathizes with the innocent rather than with the powerful. She rejoices with the true man rather than with the deceitful, and is always exhorting the good to strive for better gifts, to become like the Son of God by practicing the virtues.

Nature is quick to complain of need and trouble; grace is stanch in suffering want.

Nature turns all things back to self. It fights and argues for self. Grace brings all things back to God in Whom they have their source. To herself she ascribes no good, nor is she arrogant or presumptuous. She is not contentious. She does not prefer her own opinion to the opinion of others, but in every matter of sense and thought submits herself to eternal wisdom and the divine judgment.

Nature has a relish for knowing secrets and hearing news. It wishes to appear abroad and to have many sense experiences. It wishes to be known and to do things for which it will be praised and admired. But grace does not care to hear news or curious matters, because all this arises from the old corruption of man, since there is nothing new, nothing lasting on earth. Grace teaches, therefore, restraint of the senses, avoidance of vain self-satisfaction and show, the humble hiding of deeds worthy of praise and admiration, and the seeking in every thing and in every knowledge the fruit of usefulness, the praise and honor of God. She will not have herself or hers exalted, but desires that God Who bestows all simply out of love should be blessed in His gifts.

This grace is a supernatural light, a certain special gift of God, the proper mark of the elect and the pledge of everlasting salvation. It raises man up from earthly things to love the things of heaven. It makes a spiritual man of a carnal one.

The more, then, nature is held in check and conquered, the more grace is given. Every day the interior man is reformed by new visitations according to the image of God. [Col. 3:10]

[Imitation of Christ, Book Three. Public Domain.]

Tuesday, April 25, 2006




The Fifty-Third Chapter

God’s Grace Is Not Given to the Earthly Minded

The Voice of Christ:
MY CHILD, my grace is precious. It does not allow itself to be mixed with external things or with earthly consolations. Cast away all obstacles to grace, therefore, if you wish to receive its infusion.

Seek to retire within yourself. Love to dwell alone with yourself. Seek no man’s conversation, but rather pour forth devout prayer to God that you may keep your mind contrite and your heart pure.

Consider the whole world as nothing. Prefer attendance upon God to all outward occupation, for you cannot attend upon Me and at the same time take delight in external things. You must remove yourself from acquaintances and from dear friends, and keep your mind free of all temporal consolation.

Thus the blessed Apostle St. Peter begs the faithful of Christ to keep themselves as strangers and pilgrims in the world. [1 Peter 2:2]

What great confidence at the hour of death shall be his who is not attached to this world by any affection. But the sickly soul does not know what it is to have a heart thus separated from all things, nor does the natural man know the liberty of the spiritual man. Yet, if he truly wishes to be spiritual, he must renounce both strangers and friends, and must beware of no one more than himself.

If you completely conquer yourself, you will more easily subdue all other things. The perfect victory is to triumph over self. For he who holds himself in such subjection that sensuality obeys reason and reason obeys Me in all matters, is truly his own conqueror and master of the world.

Now, if you wish to climb to this high position you must begin like a man, and lay the ax to the root, in order to tear out and destroy any hidden unruly love of self or of earthly goods. From this vice of too much self-love comes almost every other vice that must be uprooted. And when this evil is vanquished, and brought under control, great peace and quiet will follow at once.

But because few labor to die entirely to self, or tend completely away from self, therefore they remain entangled in self, and cannot be lifted in spirit above themselves. But he who desires to walk freely with Me must mortify all his low and inordinate affections, and must not cling with selfish love or desire to any creature.

[Imitation of Christ, Book Three. Public Domain.]

Monday, April 24, 2006




The Fifty-Second Chapter

A Man Ought Not to Consider Himself Worthy of Consolation, But Rather Deserving of Chastisement

The Disciple:
LORD, I am not worthy of Your consolation or of any spiritual visitation. Therefore, You treat me justly when You leave me poor and desolate. For though I could shed a sea of tears, yet I should not be worthy of Your consolation. Hence, I deserve only to be scourged and punished because I have offended You often and grievously, and have sinned greatly in many things. In all justice, therefore, I am not worthy of any consolation.

But You, O gracious and merciful God, Who do not will that Your works should perish, deign to console Your servant beyond all his merit and above human measure, to show the riches of Your goodness toward the vessels of mercy. [Rom. 9:23] For Your consolations are not like the words of men.

What have I done, Lord, that You should confer on me any heavenly comfort? I remember that I have done nothing good, but that I have always been prone to sin and slow to amend.

That is true. I cannot deny it. If I said otherwise You would stand against me, and there would be no one to defend me. What have I deserved for my sins except hell and everlasting fire?

In truth, I confess that I am deserving of all scorn and contempt. Neither is it fitting that I should be remembered among Your devoted servants. And although it is hard for me to hear this, yet for truth’s sake I will allege my sins against myself, so that I may more easily deserve to beg Your mercy.

What shall I say, guilty as I am and full of all confusion? My tongue can say nothing but this alone: “I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned; have mercy on me and pardon me. Suffer me a little that I may pour out my grief, before I go to that dark land that is covered with the shadow of death.” [Job 10:20]

What do you especially demand of a guilty and wretched sinner, except that he be contrite and humble himself for his sins? In true sorrow and humility of heart hope of forgiveness is born, the troubled conscience is reconciled, grace is found, man is preserved from the wrath to come, and God and the penitent meet with a holy kiss.

To You, O Lord, humble sorrow for sins is an acceptable sacrifice, a sacrifice far sweeter than the perfume of incense. This is also the pleasing ointment which You would have poured upon Your sacred feet, for a contrite and humble heart You have never despised. Here is a place of refuge from the force of the enemy’s anger. Here is amended and washed away whatever defilement has been contracted elsewhere.

[Imitation of Christ, Book Three. Public Domain.]

Sunday, April 23, 2006






Forms of Devotion

Divine Mercy Sunday

Divine Mercy Sunday is the Second Sunday of the Easter season. It was named by Pope John Paul II at the canonization of St. Maria Faustina on April 30, 2000, and then officially decreed by the Vatican.

Divine Mercy Sunday can be seen as the convergence of all the mysteries and graces of Holy Week and Easter Week. It is like a multi-exposure photograph of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Easter Week. Or we can think of it as a converging lens that focuses the light of the Risen Christ into a radiant beam of merciful love and grace for the whole world.

In fact, Jesus revealed in various revelations to St. Faustina that it was His desire that we celebrate this special feast. The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy. (Diary, 699)

Our Lord revealed to St. Faustina His desire to literally flood us with His graces on that day. Just consider each of the promises and desires that He expressed about Mercy Sunday, which are recorded in the main passage of the Diary — passage 699 — about Mercy Sunday:

On that day the very depths of My tender Mercy are open.

I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon these souls who approach the Fount of My mercy [the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist].

The soul that will go to Confession [beforehand] and receive Holy Communion [on that day] shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.

On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened.

Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.

The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness.

It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter.


Read The Whole
Article:http://www.thedivinemercy.org/message/devotions/mercysundy.php



The Fifty-First Chapter
When We Cannot Attain to the Highest, We Must Practice the Humble Works


The Voice of Christ:
MY CHILD, you cannot always continue in the more fervent desire of virtue, or remain in the higher stage of contemplation, but because of humanity’s sin you must sometimes descend to lower things and bear the burden of this corruptible life, albeit unwillingly and wearily.


As long as you wear a mortal body you will suffer weariness and heaviness of heart. You ought, therefore, to bewail in the flesh the burden of the flesh which keeps you from giving yourself unceasingly to spiritual exercises and divine contemplation.

In such condition, it is well for you to apply yourself to humble, outward works and to refresh yourself in good deeds, to await with unshaken confidence My heavenly visitation, patiently to bear your exile and dryness of mind until you are again visited by Me and freed of all anxieties.

For I will cause you to forget your labors and to enjoy inward quiet. I will spread before you the open fields of the Scriptures, so that with an open heart you may begin to advance in the way of My commandments.

And you will say: the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the future glory which shall be revealed to us. [Rom. 8:18]

[Imitation of Christ, Book Three. Public Domain.]

Saturday, April 22, 2006




The Fiftieth Chapter

How a Desolate Person Ought to Commit Himself Into the Hands of God

The Disciple:
LORD God, Holy Father, may You be blessed now and in eternity. For as You will, so is it done; and what You do is good. Let Your servant rejoice in You—not in himself or in any other, for You alone are true joy. You are my hope and my crown. You, O Lord, are my joy and my honor.

What does Your servant possess that he has not received from You, [1 Cor. 4:7] and that without any merit of his own? Yours are all the things which You have given, all the things which You have made.

I am poor and in labors since my youth, and my soul is sorrowful sometimes even to the point of tears. At times, also, my spirit is troubled because of impending sufferings. I long for the joy of peace.

Earnestly I beg for the peace of Your children who are fed by You in the light of consolation. If You give peace, if You infuse holy joy, the soul of Your servant shall be filled with holy song and be devout in praising You. But if You withdraw Yourself, as You so very often do, he will not be able to follow the way of Your commandments, but will rather be obliged to strike his breast and bend the knee, because his today is different from yesterday and the day before when Your light shone upon his head and he was protected in the shadow of Your wings from the temptations rushing upon him.

Just Father, ever to be praised, the hour is come for Your servant to be tried. Beloved Father, it is right that in this hour Your servant should suffer something for You. O Father, forever to be honored, the hour which You knew from all eternity is at hand, when for a short time Your servant should be outwardly oppressed, but inwardly should ever live with You.

Let him be a little slighted, let him be humbled, let him fail in the sight of men, let him be afflicted with sufferings and pains, so that he may rise again with You in the dawn of the new light and be glorified in heaven.

Holy Father, You have so appointed and wished it. What has happened is what You commanded. For this is a favor to Your friend, to suffer and be troubled in the world for Your love, no matter how often and by whom You permit it to happen to him.

Nothing happens in the world without Your design and providence, and without cause. It is well for me, O Lord, that You have humbled me, that I may learn the justice of Your judgments and cast away all presumption and haughtiness of heart. It is profitable for me that shame has covered my face that I may look to You rather than to men for consolation. Hereby I have learned also to fear Your inscrutable judgment falling alike upon the just and unjust yet not without equity and justice.

Thanks to You that You have not spared me evils but have bruised me with bitter blows, inflicting sorrows, sending distress without and within. Under heaven there is none to console me except You, my Lord God, the heavenly Physician of souls, Who wound and heal, Who cast down to hell and raise up again. [Tob. 13:2] Your discipline is upon me and Your very rod shall instruct me.

Behold, beloved Father, I am in Your hands. I bow myself under Your correcting chastisement.

Strike my back and my neck, that I may bend my crookedness to Your will. Make of me a pious and humble follower, as in Your goodness You are wont to do, that I may walk according to Your every nod. Myself and all that is mine I commit to You to be corrected, for it is better to be punished here than hereafter.

You know all things without exception, and nothing in man’s conscience is hidden from You.

Coming events You know before they happen, and there is no need for anyone to teach or admonish You of what is being done on earth. You know what will promote my progress, and how much tribulation will serve to cleanse away the rust of vice.

Deal with me according to Your good pleasure and do not despise my sinful life, which is known to none so well or so clearly as to You alone.

Grant me, O Lord, the grace to know what should be known, to praise what is most pleasing to You, to esteem that which appears most precious to You, and to abhor what is unclean in Your sight.

Do not allow me to judge according to the light of my bodily eyes, nor to give sentence according to the hearing of ignorant men’s ears. But let me distinguish with true judgment between things visible and spiritual, and always seek above all things Your good pleasure. The senses of men often err in their judgments, and the lovers of this world also err in loving only visible things.

How is a man the better for being thought greater by men? The deceiver deceives the deceitful, the vain man deceives the vain, the blind deceives the blind, the weak deceives the weak as often as he extols them, and in truth his foolish praise shames them the more. For, as the humble St. Francis says, whatever anyone is in Your sight, that he is and nothing more.

[Imitation of Christ, Book Three. Public Domain.]

Friday, April 21, 2006





Spirit & Life
"The words I spoke to you are spirit and life."
(Jn 6:63)

Human Life International e-NewsletterVolume 1, Number 12 Friday, April 21, 2006
......................
http://www.hli.org/
High Profile Apostasy
The announcement of a brand new baby girl for Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes reached the ears of the fawning media last Tuesday, but I just can't celebrate with them. It was not the baby who made me feel out of sorts—you know that a pro-life priest loves all babies! It's her parents' wretched example that irks me. While so many others will be congratulating the happy couple on their new (out of wedlock) baby, I will be praying for their souls.

For those who don't know, both Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are former Catholics who have totally abandoned their Catholic faith, upbringing and education by joining Scientology which is hardly more than a weird New Age cult. Katie's departure from Catholicism is, well, shocking and repugnant given that she was allotted the best Catholic education money can buy. She is also on record as saying that she intended to remain a virgin until marriage, but Cruise blew that one out of the water like the good top gunner that he is. Doctrinal aberrations and moral degeneration usually go together. And needless to say, the Cruises do not plan to baptize their baby.

Although the term apostasy is not used much these days, Catholics who "convert" to Scientology are prime candidates for the label. Case in point, the Cruises shed their Christian faith and replaced it with Dianetics, and as Tom's pseudo-evangelistic interviews with Parade magazine, The Today Show, Oprah and others has made clear, not a vestige of the old time religion remains.

The Catholic Catechism defines apostasy as "the total repudiation of the Christian faith" and with it heresy as "the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith" (n. 2089). Yes, the Cruises fit the bill. However, Cruise and Holmes are not unique in their repudiation of the Catholic Faith. They fit a disturbing genre that faithful Catholics should not just gloss over as typical of Hollywood sell-outs. So many "Catholics" in public life have either completely rejected the faith or are living in irreconcilable, scandalous conflict with it, and we shouldn't be silent about this lest our silence be interpreted as consent.

Political apostates like Ted Kennedy and John Kerry repudiate the faith daily while pretending to embrace it. Pop star anti-role-models like Bruce Springsteen hardly make an effort to justify their irregular marriages while Brooke Shields evangelizes the culture about in vitro fertilization apparently without the slightest notion that her Church condemns the practice utterly. Media compromisers like Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Chris Matthews take only those doses of the faith that leave their politics or their bloated opinions undisturbed. And Madonna—well, she just blasphemes the faith. What more is there to say?

When I was growing up my dad never hesitated to point out such "Catholics" and make it abundantly clear to his family that people like the Cruises and their ilk were reprehensible examples of Catholics in public life. He always let me know that the faith deserved better. In other words, I regularly heard the witness of a good Catholic man defining for me what "Catholic" really means and of course what it manifestly does not mean.

Faithful Catholics have to relentlessly expose apostasy, heresy and any other compromises of our faith to the younger generations so that the inordinate influence of the high profile apostates doesn't hasten the death of faith in kids—or worse—the death of their souls.


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Sincerely Yours in Christ, Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer,President, Human Life International

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Pieter Paul Rubens. The Martyrdom of St. Stephen. Musée des Beaux-Arts, Valenciennes.

The Forty-Ninth Chapter

The Desire of Eternal Life; the Great Rewards Promised to Those Who Struggle

The Voice of Christ:

MY CHILD, when you feel the desire for everlasting happiness poured out upon you from above, and when you long to depart out of the tabernacle of the body that you may contemplate My glory without threat of change, [James 1:17] open wide your heart and receive this holy inspiration with all eagerness.

Give deepest thanks to the heavenly Goodness which deals with you so understandingly, visits you so mercifully, stirs you so fervently, and sustains you so powerfully lest under your own weight you sink down to earthly things. For you obtain this not by your own thought or effort, but simply by the condescension of heavenly grace and divine regard. And the purpose of it is that you may advance in virtue and in greater humility, that you may prepare yourself for future trials, that you may strive to cling to Me with all the affection of your heart, and may serve Me with a fervent will.

My child, often, when the fire is burning the flame does not ascend without smoke. Likewise, the desires of some burn toward heavenly things, and yet they are not free from temptations of carnal affection. Therefore, it is not altogether for the pure honor of God that they act when they petition Him so earnestly. Such, too, is often your desire which you profess to be so strong. For that which is alloyed with self-interest is not pure and perfect.

Ask, therefore, not for what is pleasing and convenient to yourself, but for what is acceptable to Me and is for My honor, because if you judge rightly, you ought to prefer and follow My will, not your own desire or whatever things you wish.

I know your longings and I have heard your frequent sighs. Already you wish to be in the liberty of the glory of the sons of God. [Rom. 5:2] Already you desire the delights of the eternal home, the heavenly land that is full of joy. But that hour is not yet come. There remains yet another hour, a time of war, of labor, and of trial.

You long to be filled with the highest good, but you cannot attain it now. I am that sovereign Good. Await Me, until the kingdom of God shall come. [Luke 22:18]

You must still be tried on earth, and exercised in many things. Consolation will sometimes be given you, but the complete fullness of it is not granted. Take courage, therefore, and be strong both to do and to suffer what is contrary to nature.

You must put on the new man. [Eph. 4:24] You must be changed into another man. You must often do the things you do not wish to do and forego those you do wish. What pleases others will succeed; what pleases you will not. The words of others will be heard; what you say will be accounted as nothing. Others will ask and receive; you will ask and not receive. Others will gain great fame among men; about you nothing will be said. To others the doing of this or that will be entrusted; you will be judged useless.

At all this nature will sometimes be sad, and it will be a great thing if you bear this sadness in silence. For in these and many similar ways the faithful servant of the Lord is wont to be tried, to see how far he can deny himself and break himself in all things.

There is scarcely anything in which you so need to die to self as in seeing and suffering things that are against your will, especially when things that are commanded seem inconvenient or useless. Then, because you are under authority, and dare not resist the higher power, it seems hard to submit to the will of another and give up your own opinion entirely.

But consider, my child, the fruit of these labors, how soon they will end and how greatly they will be rewarded, and you will not be saddened by them, but your patience will receive the strongest consolation. [Heb. 6:18]

For instead of the little will that you now readily give up, you shall always have your will in heaven. There, indeed, you shall find all that you could desire. There you shall have possession of every good without fear of losing it. There shall your will be forever one with Mine. It shall desire nothing outside of Me and nothing for itself. There no one shall oppose you, no one shall complain of you, no one hinder you, and nothing stand in your way.

All that you desire will be present there, replenishing your affection and satisfying it to the full. There I shall render you glory for the reproach you have suffered here; for your sorrow I shall give you a garment of praise, and for the lowest place a seat of power forever. There the fruit of glory will appear, the labor of penance rejoice, and humble subjection be gloriously crowned.

Bow humbly, therefore, under the will of all, and do not heed who said this or commanded that. But let it be your special care when something is commanded, or even hinted at, whether by a superior or an inferior or an equal, that you take it in good part and try honestly to perform it. Let one person seek one thing and another something else. Let one glory in this, another in that, and both be praised a thousand times over.

But as for you, rejoice neither in one or the other, but only in contempt of yourself and in My pleasure and honor. Let this be your wish: That whether in life or in death God may be glorified in you. [Phil. 1:20]

[Imitation of Christ. Book Three. Public Domain.]


Wednesday, April 19, 2006




The Forty-Eighth Chapter

The Day of Eternity and the Distresses of This Life

The Disciple:

O MOST happy mansion of the city above! O most bright day of eternity, which night does not darken, but which the highest truth ever enlightens! O day, ever joyful and ever secure, which never changes its state to the opposite! Oh, that this day shine forth, that all these temporal things come to an end! It envelops the saints all resplendent with heavenly brightness, [Tob. 13:13] but it appears far off as through a glass to us wanderers on the earth. [1 Cor. 13:12]

The citizens of heaven know how joyful that day is, but the exiled sons of Eve mourn that this one is bitter and tedious.

The days of this life are short and evil, full of grief and distress. Here man is defiled by many sins, ensnared in many passions, enslaved by many fears, and burdened with many cares. He is distracted by many curiosities and entangled in many vanities, surrounded by many errors and worn by many labors, oppressed by temptations, weakened by pleasures, and tortured by want.

Oh, when will these evils end? When shall I be freed from the miserable slavery of vice? [Rom. 7:24] When, Lord, shall I think of You alone? When shall I fully rejoice in You? When shall I be without hindrance, in true liberty, free from every grievance of mind and body? When will there be solid peace, undisturbed and secure, inward peace and outward peace, peace secured on every side?

O good Jesus, when shall I stand to gaze upon You? When shall I contemplate the glory of Your kingdom? When will You be all in all to me? Oh, when shall I be with You in that kingdom of Yours, which You have prepared for Your beloved from all eternity? [Matt. 25:34]

I am left poor and exiled in a hostile land, where every day sees wars and very great misfortunes. Console my banishment, assuage my sorrow. My whole desire is for You.

Whatever solace this world offers is a burden to me. I desire to enjoy You intimately, but I cannot attain to it. I wish to cling fast to heavenly things, but temporal affairs and unmortified passions bear me down. I wish in mind to be above all things, but I am forced by the flesh to be unwillingly subject to them. Thus, I fight with myself, unhappy that I am, and am become a burden to myself, while my spirit seeks to rise upward and my flesh to sink downward. Oh, what inward suffering I undergo when I consider heavenly things; when I pray, a multitude of carnal thoughts rush upon me!

O my God, do not remove Yourself far from me, and depart not in anger from Your servant. Dart forth Your lightning and disperse them; send forth Your arrows and let the phantoms of the enemy be put to flight. Draw my senses toward You and make me forget all worldly things. Grant me the grace to cast away quickly all vicious imaginings and to scorn them. Aid me, O heavenly Truth, that no vanity may move me. Come, heavenly Sweetness, and let all impurity fly from before Your face.

Pardon me also, and deal mercifully with me, as often as I think of anything besides You in prayer. For I confess truly that I am accustomed to be very much distracted. Very often I am not where bodily I stand or sit; rather, I am where my thoughts carry me. Where my thoughts are, there am I; and frequently my thoughts are where my love is. That which naturally delights, or is by habit pleasing, comes to me quickly. Hence You Who are Truth itself, have plainly said: “For where your treasure is, there is your heart also.” If I love heaven, I think willingly of heavenly things. If I love the world, I rejoice at the happiness of the world and grieve at its troubles. If I love the flesh, I often imagine things that are carnal. If I love the spirit, I delight in thinking of spiritual matters. For whatever I love, I am willing to speak and hear about.

Blessed is the man who for Your sake, O Lord, dismisses all creatures, does violence to nature, crucifies the desires of the flesh in fervor of spirit, so that with serene conscience he can offer You a pure prayer and, having excluded all earthly things inwardly and outwardly, becomes worthy to enter into the heavenly choirs.

[Imitation of Christ. Book Three. Public Domain.]


Tuesday, April 18, 2006




The Forty-Seventh Chapter

Every Trial Must Be Borne for the Sake of Eternal Life

The Voice of Christ:

MY CHILD, do not let the labors which you have taken up for My sake break you, and do not let troubles, from whatever source, cast you down; but in everything let My promise strengthen and console you. I am able to reward you beyond all means and measure. [Gen. 15:1]

You will not labor here long, nor will you always be oppressed by sorrows. Wait a little while and you will see a speedy end of evils. The hour will come when all labor and trouble shall be no more. All that passes away with time is trivial. [Wisdom 3:9]

What you do, do well. Work faithfully in My vineyard. I will be your reward. Write, read, sing, mourn, keep silence, pray, and bear hardships like a man. Eternal life is worth all these and greater battles.

Peace will come on a day which is known to the Lord, and then there shall be no day or night as at present but perpetual light, infinite brightness, lasting peace, and safe repose. [Apoc. 21:23]

Then you will not say: “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” [Rom. 7:24] nor will you cry: “Woe is me, because my sojourn is prolonged.” For then death will be banished, and there will be health unfailing. There will be no anxiety then, but blessed joy and sweet, noble companionship.

If you could see the everlasting crowns of the saints in heaven, and the great glory wherein they now rejoice—they who were once considered contemptible in this world and, as it were, unworthy of life itself—you would certainly humble yourself at once to the very earth, and seek to be subject to all rather than to command even one. Nor would you desire the pleasant days of this life, but rather be glad to suffer for God, considering it your greatest gain to be counted as nothing among men.

Oh, if these things appealed to you and penetrated deeply into your heart, how could you dare to complain even once? Ought not all trials be borne for the sake of everlasting life? In truth, the loss or gain of God’s kingdom is no small matter.

Lift up your countenance to heaven, then. Behold Me, and with Me all My saints. They had great trials in this life, but now they rejoice. They are consoled. Now they are safe and at rest. And they 175 shall abide with Me for all eternity in the kingdom of My Father. [Wisdom 5:1]

[Imitation of Christ. Public Domain.]


Sunday, April 16, 2006




The Forty-Sixth Chapter
Trust in God Against Slander


The Voice of Christ:
MY CHILD, stand firm and trust in Me. For what are words but words? They fly through the air but hurt not a stone. If you are guilty, consider how you would gladly amend. If you are not conscious of any fault, think that you wish to bear this for the sake of God. It is little enough for you occasionally to endure words, since you are not yet strong enough to bear hard blows.

And why do such small matters pierce you to the heart, unless because you are still carnal and pay more heed to men than you ought? You do not wish to be reproved for your faults and you seek shelter in excuses because you are afraid of being despised. But look into yourself more thoroughly and you will learn that the world is still alive in you, in a vain desire to please men. For when you shrink from being abased and confounded for your failings, it is plain indeed that you are not truly humble or truly dead to the world, and that the world is not crucified in you. [Gal. 6:14]

Listen to My word, and you will not value ten thousand words of men.

Behold, if every malicious thing that could possibly be invented were uttered against you, what harm could it do if you ignored it all and gave it no more thought than you would a blade of grass? Could it so much as pluck one hair from your head?

He who does not keep his heart within him, and who does not have God before his eyes is easily moved by a word of disparagement. He who trusts in Me, on the other hand, and who has no desire to stand by his own judgment, will be free from the fear of men. For I am the judge and discerner of all secrets. I know how all things happen. I know who causes injury and who suffers it. From Me that word proceeded, and with My permission it happened, that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed. [Luke 2:35]

I shall judge the guilty and the innocent; but I have wished beforehand to try them both by secret judgment.

The testimony of man is often deceiving, but My judgment is true—it will stand and not be overthrown. It is hidden from many and made known to but a few. Yet it is never mistaken and cannot be mistaken even though it does not seem right in the eyes of the unwise.

To Me, therefore, you ought to come in every decision, not depending on your own judgment. For the just man will not be disturbed, no matter what may befall him from God. Even if an unjust charge be made against him he will not be much troubled. Neither will he exult vainly if through others he is justly acquitted.

He considers that it is I Who search the hearts and inmost thoughts of men, that I do not judge according to the face of things or human appearances. For what the judgment of men considers praiseworthy is often worthy of blame in My sight.

The Disciple:
O Lord God, just Judge, strong and patient, You Who know the weakness and depravity of men, be my strength and all my confidence, for my own conscience is not sufficient for me. You know what I do not know, and, therefore, I ought to humble myself whenever I am accused and bear it meekly.

Forgive me, then, in Your mercy for my every failure in this regard, and give me once more the grace of greater endurance. Better to me is Your abundant mercy in obtaining pardon than the justice which I imagine in defending the secrets of my conscience. And though I am not conscious to myself of any fault, yet I cannot thereby justify myself, because without Your mercy no man living will be justified in Your sight.

[Imitation of Christ, Book Three. Public Domain.]



The Forty-Fifth Chapter

All Men Are Not to Be Believed, for It Is Easy to Err in Speech


The Disciple:
GRANT me help in my needs, O Lord, for the aid of man is useless. How often have I failed to find faithfulness in places where I thought I possessed it! And how many times I have found it where I least expected it!

Vain, therefore, is hope in men, but the salvation of the just is in You, O God. Blessed be Your name, O Lord my God, in everything that befalls us.

We are weak and unstable, quickly deceived and changed. Who is the man that is able to guard himself with such caution and care as not sometimes to fall into deception or perplexity?

He who confides in You, O Lord, and seeks You with a simple heart does not fall so easily. And if some trouble should come upon him, no matter how entangled in it he may be, he will be more quickly delivered and comforted by You. For You will not forsake him who trusts in You to the very end.

Rare is the friend who remains faithful through all his friend’s distress. But You, Lord, and You alone, are entirely faithful in all things; other than You, there is none so faithful.

Oh, how wise is that holy soul who said: “My mind is firmly settled and founded in Christ.” [Ephes. 3:17] If that were true of me, human fear would not so easily cause me anxiety, nor would the darts of words disturb.

But who can foresee all things and provide against all evils? And if things foreseen have often hurt, can those which are unlooked for do otherwise than wound us gravely? Why, indeed, have I not provided better for my wretched self? Why, too, have I so easily kept faith in others?

We are but men, however, nothing more than weak men, although we are thought by many to be, and are called, angels.

In whom shall I put my faith, Lord? In whom but You? You are the truth which does not deceive and cannot be deceived. Every man, on the other hand, is a liar, weak, unstable, and likely to err, especially in words, so that one ought not to be too quick to believe even that which seems, on the face of it, to sound true.

How wise was Your warning to beware of men; that a man’s enemies are those of his own household; that we should not believe if anyone says: “Behold he is here, or behold he is there.” [Matt. 24:23]

I have been taught to my own cost, and I hope it has given me greater caution, not greater folly. “Beware,” they say, “beware and keep to yourself what I tell you!” Then while I keep silent, believing that the matter is secret, he who asks me to be silent cannot remain silent himself, but immediately betrays both me and himself, and goes his way.

From tales of this kind and from such careless men protect me, O Lord, lest I fall into their hands and into their ways. Put in my mouth words that are true and steadfast and keep far from me the crafty tongue, because what I am not willing to suffer I ought by all means to shun.

Oh, how good and how peaceful it is to be silent about others, not to believe without discrimination all that is said, not easily to report it further, to reveal oneself to few, always to seek You as the discerner of hearts, and not to be blown away by every wind of words, but to wish that all things, within and beyond us, be done according to the pleasure of Thy will.

How conducive it is for the keeping of heavenly grace to fly the gaze of men, not to seek abroad things which seem to cause admiration, but to follow with utmost diligence those which give fervor and amendment of life! How many have been harmed by having their virtue known and praised too hastily! And how truly profitable it has been when grace remained hidden during this frail life, which is all temptation and warfare!

[Imitation of Christ, Book Three. Public Domain.]