One of the greatest punishments which God can inflict upon a soul is to take from it “the means of doing good.” This punishment God inflicts “for a time” in His mercy on those from whom much can be expected and who are not faithful. To-day, for example, you have not encountered a single destitute one in your path. It was God who prevented them from appearing.
It was God who prevented them from appearing
You felt moved at the sight of a mendicant who appealed to you, but found that you had not a single piece of money. It was God who had caused you to forget the money which you wished to give.
Search your heart; “perhaps to-day you were not worthy to give alms.”
These words may bring a smile, perhaps, even on the lips of pious people, but the profoundly Catholic souls to whom I address myself will understand me. The giving of alms is a grace which the good God does not bestow on everyone.
The giving of alms is a grace which the good God does not bestow on everyone
Your entire day passes without your having found an occasion to render even the most trifling service, without your being able to visit the Blessed Sacrament for even a few minutes’ meditation, without your having thought of praying for anyone…
It was God who left you an entirely useless day – what a void!
It was God who left you an entirely useless day, as a corrective punishment perhaps, for having yesterday abandoned your heart too much to creatures.
What a void in a life is a day without devotion, without some special prayer, without some charitable action for God’s sake!
To have no one to make happy – what a nightmare!
God also inflicts this punishment, and, alas! for a long period, upon those who in their youth have wasted in vague reveries the affection which filled their hearts.
Poor souls, what an expiation is this!
To have no one to make happy – no aged father to care for, no true friend to share our affection or our riches, no afflicted person to console, no child or ignorant person to instruct, no blessing to ask of heaven for one dearer to us than ourselves…
To have nothing but self… always self… the only object of our thoughts, of our efforts, of our labours – how hard, how sad is this!
To have nothing but self, always self, self… how sad is this!
“Charity flies from me,” said the good man who was bitterly expiating a youth passed far from God. “Charity flies from me. I feel the desire of giving, of devoting myself, but I cannot; I do not know how; I hesitate; I try, but I am unkind, and give ungraciously… The good God wishes nothing of me. Oh! how great is this punishment!”
Oh! my God, punish me in some other way, but leave me some one to whom I may devote myself. I do not ask from thee that I may be loved, but only that I may have the power of loving. I do not ask that my devotion may be known, but only that I may have the grace of devoting myself. As long as I can devote myself to others it will seem, at least, that thou hast not entirely abandoned me.
– From: Golden Grains, Eighth Edition, H.M. Gill and Son, Dublin 1889