For he that will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it (Mt16:25)
Giving up one’s life for Jesus loving others without counting the cost
To be useful is very beautiful in the sight of God and of our conscience. If to be amiable, to be loved were not to be useful to others by making life sweeter to them, we never would seek to be amiable; we would content ourselves with being useful.
“It is through us that those we love are happy”
When we feel ourselves almost indispensable to the comfort of all, in the midst of a small family where we pass our life in labour, that we are able to say softly: “It is through us that those we love are happy.” “They are praised, they are esteemed, and it is we who cause it all.”
“They are content with themselves; they imagine that they do a great deal; and that they are always successful; and for this work, this success, we have furnished the materials. It is we who, by speaking well of them, praising them at proper times, pointing out their good qualities, and hiding their faults – it is we who are the cause of everything succeeding with them.”
This work of usefulness is accomplished quietly and in the presence of God alone
What a sweet thought, particularly when this work of usefulness is accomplished quietly, with little noise, and in the presence of God alone; when it never appears, and when to the eyes of all we seem to be doing no more than others! What joy for the heart, and what a harvest of merit for eternity.
Oh! my God, let me add to my morning prayers that short one, so excellent but so little known: “May I be useful to some one this day.”
But to be happy in this work of devotion accomplished in secret, and to continue it for any length of time, very much virtue is necessary; there must be, in the most practical sense of the word, “The habitual thought of God“, which takes the place of everything, and in presence of which we work, because, alas! the thought of doing good is not sufficient of itself to sustain us; we all desire to be appreciated a little.
What often disturbs, and for a long time paralyses the ardour of poor devoted hearts is that they are unconsciously too anxious to know whether their devotion is appreciated. They have been given too much to understand that “devotion is always rewarded upon earth,” and, not receiving a recompense such as they expected, they say to themselves, We are wasting our time.
Our very dearest and best Friend Jesus sees every little good thing we do, and He is very pleased with us
Take courage, poor hearts; commence again to be cheerful and devoted. If men make you no return, either through forgetfulness, inability, or indifference, so much better! God will reward you in heaven; and is not God’s recompense worth more than that of men?
Laying up treasures in heaven where neither rust nor moth consume (Mt 6:19)
The art of being useful is not a thing that can be learned. It is a divine passion that comes into the heart through special grace, which impels less to act than to remain united to God, seeking in some way to assist God in the care which He takes of others.
Assisting God in the care He takes of others
Then there are so many ways of being useful. You are useful, who, through love of order, and with the thought of making all happy, see carefully that nothing is out of place, that nothing is wasted, and that everything is neat and orderly.
You are useful whom sickness chains to a couch, and who remain patient and resigned, praying for those who perform the work which you should do if you had your health.
You are useful who are permitted to do nothing because your ability is doubted; who are repulsed; to whom unsuitable employment is given, and who yet remain smiling, humble, and silent.
Among you all, who is the happiest and the most useful? Is it not the soul which is most united to God?
A special grace, a divine passion
“Do well to-day what Providence actually asks of you, be it ever so little,” wrote St Francis de Sales, “and when to-morrow has become for us to-day, we shall again see what we are required to undertake.”
Oh! then let us abandon all pre-occupation, and make beautiful the present moment which God has given us to embellish; after that take another, then another… a moment passes quickly, but it is easy to spend it profitably. Oh! my God, how good art thou to permit me to purchase heaven with moments!
– From: Golden Grains, Eighth Edition, H.M. Gill and Son, Dublin, 1889 (headings in bold added)